The aerospace industry in northern Illinois will have hundreds of jobs to fill in the coming years. That’s due to a major expansion in the Rockford-area.
The area has served as a key hub for aerospace manufacturing. And it’s got the companies to prove it, with some 200 operating in the stateline region. One of the major players, Woodward Incorporated, announced Thursday it has plans to build a second campus in Loves Park. The company, which currently employs nearly 15-hundred people locally, says it hopes to double that workforce over the next decade.
Janyce Fadden heads the Rockford Area Economic Development Council. She says they know not all of the jobs will go to local residents.
"Woodward will still need to recruit from outside the region. They have for years. There's a lot of specialty engineering work that they will need experienced people for" Fadden said.
But Fadden says they hope partnerships with area educational institutions will help Woodward and other firms meet their workforce needs. One of the programs, Jiet A, sets promising students on a path toward internships.
Rock Valley College is involved with the program. School President Jack Becherer says they have high hopes for the initiative. But he says that doesn’t mean there aren’t any challenges.
"We don't have enough students in the high school system who see their role in the future being in engineering" Becherer said.
Becherer says the engineering market is very fluid, and that creating stability in the local market will help to ensure that companies are satisfied with their location.