Winnebago County Outlines Vision To Add Warehouse Industry

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After months of research, Winnebago County's pros and cons are laid out in black and white with a mission: to add even more warehouse industry, and jobs.

"I think this really helps us differentiate our story from other communities, because certainly logistics and distribution, a lot of people are vying for them," Rockford Area Economic Development Council's Janyce Fadden said.

The warehousing analysis outlined the transportation advantages Winnebago County has in place, including the I-39 corridor and UPS cargo at Rockford's airport. But the study also highlighted the area's weaknesses, notably a higher crime rate, and lower educational base than other Midwestern communities.

"There's certainly a correlation between kids dropping out of school, needing to make money, and having a hard time finding a job, and ending up in jail. That rising crime rate hurts us when we are trying to get other companies here to hire those young people," Winnebago County Regional Planning and Economic Development's Sue Mroz said.

Economic leaders argue the analysis gives the area a measuring stick to improve in the future, and add on more distribution opportunities.

"Once you get the Lowe's and the Staples and so forth in the area then there are other things that start to spring up. You'll see trucking companies spring up as well as you'll probably see distribution companies spring up," Northern Illinois' John Lewis said.