Economic Impact

The HEARRR members --- Northern Illinois University, Rockford College, Rock Valley College, and the University of Illinois College of Medicine --- have allocated fiscal, physical, and human resources, and have created entrepreneurship systems to advance economic development.

Collaborative activities focus on two economic clusters and two education issues that affect the pipeline for a skilled workforce:

•  Manufacturing

•  Healthcare

•  Quality of educators

•  Student readiness for higher education

Research presented at the CEOs for Cities national meeting (fall 2003) found that, "for the first time in modern American history, growth in a city's population did not coincide with improved economic well-being. Rather, the educational attainment of residents was the strongest driver of economic prosperity - more particularly, the percentage of residents who had attained a college or post-graduate degree," (Source: " Grads and Fads : The Dynamics of Human Capital Location" by Robert Weissbourd, RW Ventures, LLC and Christopher Berry, University of Chicago).

Major Trends in the Rock River Region

This area is undergoing demographic and industry changes that impact its economic development and that relate directly to education.

  • Severe downsizing in the manufacturing sector meant the loss of 10,000 jobs.
  • Health services, construction, and logistics have strong growth projections and offer high compensation per employee.
  • Jobs in manufacturing and other areas now typically require post-secondary education.
  • Population is projected to increase 9 percent overall from 2000 to 2010, with the largest increases among those of Hispanic heritage and those aged 55 to 64.