ROCKFORD (WIFR) -- Despite some businesses closing in 2013, experts believe this year brought a lot of economic growth. Even though Rockford saw a higher unemployment rate, several local businesses announced their expansions. That could give us something to look forward to in 2014.
From transforming the Forest City, to a struggling local unemployment rate, 2013 has been a rocky year.
However experts are still optimistic about what the new year will bring for our local economy.
"Gradual steps is a good way to put it."
John Lewis, president of a local economic consulting firm, says 2014 won't be a record breaking year for jobs. However he says more companies are taking a different approach when hiring new employees.
"You're seeing companies increasingly involved in apprenticeships and training programs, so they can get the quality of workforce that they're looking for," said Lewis.
Rockford's unemployment rate jumped to 11% in November. While Lewis says he doesn't see that number changing much in 2014. He says that shouldn't discourage people looking for work.
He predicts there will be more opportunities industries like manufacturing and aviation.
"We're very excited to be expanding our footprint here," said David Forward with GE Aviation.
Especially since GE Aviation announced its expansion recently, adding about 30 new jobs to its Loves Park location.
"We're making room because of some of the momentum business and the rebound we're seeing in business in general aviation," said Forward.
It's that slow, but steady growth Lewis says we should celebrate in the new year.
Experts believe Transform Rockford efforts has the potential to make Rockford more attractive in all areas, with hopes of making it a top 25 city by 2025.