Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy (CEDS)

As its name implies, a Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy (CEDS) lays out a regional plan for economic development. Its ultimate goal is to help our area have a stronger, more diverse regional economy. While the CEDS’ most critical function is to provide a regional economic development framework, it also serves as a required vehicle through which some federal agencies (especially the EDA) evaluate requests for grant assistance. With a CEDS plan approved by the federal government, a region is eligible to apply for federal economic development grants.

If you have any questions about the CEDS plan or the planning process, please contact Jay Fieser at or call (815) 319-4180.

The Northern Illinois Region's CEDS update

Winnebago and Boone counties created the region’s first CEDS in 2010 through a process that aligned public sector, private sector, nonprofit and community partners, as well as public input, into a plan for regional development. The CEDS has successfully aided the region in receiving the following grants from the U.S. Economic Development Administration:

  • A $6.1 million State of Ingenuity grant collaboration between Boone/Winnebago counties and Wisconsin counties to promote entrepreneurship and innovation programs.

  • A $2.7 million public works grant to upgrade roads around Chicago Rockford International Airport.

  • A $1.8 million Jobs and Innovation Accelerator Challenge grant (through EDA and other federal agencies) to promote the region’s -aerospace cluster.

While preparing for the 2015 update of the CEDS, Winnebago and Boone counties began working with McHenry County more closely on collaboration to advance the shared manufacturing industries in the wider region. As McHenry County did not have a CEDS, it was agreed that the three counties would work together on the new CEDS update.

The EDA emphasizes that the CEDS is a planning process that includes representation from the main economic interests of the region including private sector representatives, public officials, community leaders, private individuals, representatives of workforce development boards, institutions of higher education, minority and labor groups, non-profit organizations and educational institutions. A CEDS Strategy Committee is charged with leading the effort and incorporating public input along the way.

The document outlines a development strategy rather than a laundry list of projects. Although we are not including an exhaustive list of projects, the CEDS Strategy Committee should identify a list of key projects that are prioritized in line with regional assets and that will further the regional development strategy laid out in the document. These projects may in turn qualify for EDA grants, including those that provide capital investment funding. The process is usually coordinated by an Economic Development District, in this case the Economic Development District of Northern Illinois (EDDNI). EDDNI is collaborating the following partners:

  • Winnebago, Boone, and McHenry County governments

  • The Rockford Area Economic Development Council

  • Growth Dimensions for Belvidere-Boone County

  • McHenry County Economic Development Corporation

  • Northern Illinois University’s Center for Governmental Studies

  • The Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning

However, the list of companies, governments and agencies involved in the process is much longer.

The 2010-2014 CEDS

Vision and Goals

In 2015, the Rockford MSA will be a world-class, sustainable community with an entrepreneurial culture and a diverse economic base outperforming peer MSAs in job creation and retention, capital investment, and personal income growth. Prosperity and a high quality of life will result from investments in alternative energy, infrastructure, information technologies, quality healthcare, a strong talent base, educational achievement, and enhancement of cultural and natural amenities and industries.

To make this vision a reality, the region is pursuing the following goals:

  • Create a regional comprehensive economic development plan and marketing strategy emphasizing collaboration within the Rockford MSA.

  • Foster efficient business development, expansion, diversification, job growth, and entrepreneurial activity throughout the region.

  • Ensure the future availability of a skilled and flexible workforce prepared to meet the needs of both existing and emerging industries and technologies.

  • Meet the full range of business’ infrastructure needs with emphasis on transportation, utilities and communications.

  • Redeploy existing commercial and industrial underused properties, and protect natural amenities and resources for economic development purposes.

  • Obtain a higher quality of life by supporting and enhancing the region’s sense of community identity, community health, cultural and recreational amenities, and creative industries.

Top Priorities for Economic Well-Being

The following projects have been identified as top projects that strategically fit the Region’s and grant program’s funding goals, and are technically ready to implement.

  • Health Care

  • Economic Adjustment Grant

  • Regional Sustainability Indicators Program

  • Local Food and Retail Small Business Development

  • Manufacturing Entrepreneurship Programs

  • Incubator Facility

  • Expansion of the Ag-Tech Initiative and NUEDC Center

  • Northern Stateline Regional Energy Training Initiative

  • Rockford Promise

Regional Targeted Industries for 2010-2014

  • Aerospace Production

  • Alternative Energy

  • Chemical Manufacturing

  • Customer Service Centers

  • Food Processing

  • Healthcare

  • Industrial Machine Manufacturing

  • Logistics

  • Metals Manufacturing

  • On & Off Road Vehicle

  • Professional Business Services

  • Rail-Related Manufacturing



  1. U.S. Economic Development Administration

  2. Winnebago County

  3. Boone County

  4. McHenry County

  5. Rockford Area Economic Development Council

  6. Growth Dimensions for Belvidere-Boone County

  7. McHenry County Economic Development Corporation