Manufacturing is the Past, Present, and Future of Rockford

Manufacturing has been an integral part of what makes Rockford the city that it is. Rockford Mayor, Tom McNamara says, “Manufacturing is in Rockford’s DNA.” A city that has seen generation after generation grow and adapt with the times, Rockford is looking toward the future when it comes to manufacturing. Though the industry has seen multiple recessions and faced times where the outlook was bleak, Mayor NcNamara believes the manufacturing industry in Rockford is still heading for the future due to the hard-working people at companies such as Advanced Machine and Engineering Co. In fact, McNamara notes that the city has “prioritized manufacturing” in regards to funding from the city, saying, “It is at the very top of our list.”


Specialized Programs Inspire New Generations to Seek Opportunities in Manufacturing

Marketing director for Advance Machine and Engineering Co. and Rockford native, Nick Goellner, notes that AME’s apprenticeship program in conjunction with the Rock River Valley Machine and Tool Association is a program that helps train individuals in a way that is tailored to what will make them most productive in their shop. The hands on education this apprenticeship offers is a unique opportunity to develop skills on the job. The many benefits of this apprenticeship are discussed in detail in the article How Robust Apprenticeships Drive Rockford Manufacturing Careers. 

In addition to this, the Northern Illinois University has teamed up with Rock Valley College to offer a program that allows one to earn a mechanical engineering degree through Rock Valley College. Goellner believes that this program is encouraging a new generation to explore employment in manufacturing and sparking new interest in the field. Mayor McNamara shares that schools are working to ensure that students know that manufacturing isn’t the same business it once was, helping to garner more interest in the field. As discussed in this article, raising interest in the industry is the key to a successful manufacturing culture in Rockford. 


Looking to the Future of Manufacturing

Both McNamara and Goellner recognize that the manufacturing industry is rapidly growing and adapting. “Today’s manufacturing isn’t my father’s manufacturing,” says McNamara, but he notes that Rockford has been “innovative and adaptable” to today’s manufacturing. Not unlike the rest of the world, the manufacturing industry is growing more high tech every day. Goellner sees Rockford doing exactly the same, as they grow to adapt to the digital age of manufacturing. AME aims to continue bringing the quality they currently do, while remaining able to adopt the new technology as it comes. 

Rockford has been a regional hub for manufacturing for several generations. The manufacturing industry has been, and continues to be, advantageous to Rockford’s economy (as discussed here) despite recession and hardship throughout the years. Mayor of Rockford, Tom McNamara, sees a bright future for the industry in Rockford, as companies such as Advanced Machine & Engineering progress with the times and work to be able to adopt new technologies as they are developed. Forward-thinking apprenticeships and integrated learning through NIU at Rock Valley are opening young minds to the idea of working in manufacturing.




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