ROCKFORD, IL – This week a delegation of Swedish elected officials, community leaders and business owners from City of Lidköping and the City of Falköping, in the County of Skaraborg, Sweden, will be in Rockford, Belvidere and Chicago to celebrate and expand on the existing Industrial Partnership in place between the two regions. The purpose of the visit is to evaluate the outcome of the ten years of partnership and have conversations about the continuation. Several company and organizational visits are lined up for the delegation, with a news conference to be held Monday, October 10th at the Brick Café in Belvidere, and a celebratory networking event hosted by the Rockford Area Economic Development Council the evening of October 13th.
There is a history of several delegations from the Rockford Region visiting Lidköping, Skaraborg as well as visits made to the Rockford Region from this part of Sweden. Each visit provides generates channels to learn from each other as well opportunities for business match-making.
Results of the partnership include job growth, joint ventures, educational partnerships and increased community wealth. Leading Edge Hydraulics in Rockford, for example, has added more than 25 jobs and built a new technical center as a direct result of partnering with Swedish hydraulic company CEJN AB in Skövde. For CEJN AB, an increased customer base has been gained. Other business results on the Swedish side are a local blacksmith entering the U.S. market, as she received her first U.S. export order and an agriculture business that has expanded their U.S. business by opening up a daughter company in Illinois. This agriculture business is currently in the process of hiring both in Sweden and in the U.S. Another small business that manufactures stone wool insulation cutting tables is also seeing great benefits and has exported about 20 tables to the U.S.
This significant partnership also continues to have a positive impact on our local tourism as a sold out ”Sweden Trip”, where more than 40 delegates from the Rockford Region and Madison area traveled to Sweden, led to two tourism companies signing a formal partnership. Several additional business introductions were made, providing needed resources to numerous companies, which aligns with what the partnership aims to do, assist local companies to navigate globally.
About 100 students from Sweden has been part of various creative international educational projects and partnerships with community and educational organizations in Rockford. In Lidköping, the educational partnerships with Rockford organizations has led to attracting more students to vocational construction and nursing programs, which also means economic gain and investment in it´s workforce pipeline. An educational agreement has been signed between Rockford University and University of Skövde, allowing students to study abroad at respective intuitions, tuition free. Approximately $ 50.000 has been secured by grants from the Swedish Government for these educational partnerships. The partnership has also generated job-shadowing of teachers and fire fighters. Several best practices exchanges and study visits within the sustainability field have taken place as well.
”We are more similar than we are different, and we connect well with each other as we both share the vision that in order to grow locally you have to work globally”, says Lidköping´s Mayor Kjell Hedvall about his current visit to Rockford.
”The long term commitment Mayor Hedvall and the City of Lidköping has shown Rockford throughout these past ten years, has had an extremely positive impact on Rockford´s businesses and educational organizations,” stated City of Rockford´s Mayor, Larry Morrissey.
Falköping´s Mayor, Conny Johansson remarked, ”We are very excited to come here and learn more about the City of Belvidere and the Rockford Region. Last year we had the pleasure of hosting Mayor Mike Chamberlain and Alderman Daniel Arevalo in our city and show them what we have to offer in a potential partnership between our two cities and regions.”
”Our visit to Falköping last year was great, the hospitality they showed us was amazing. We are so excited about the opportunity to welcome them our community and have the chance to discuss potential business and community partnerships”, says Belvidere´s Mayor, Mike Chamberlain.
International Business Developer Bengtsson, who has been assisting to cultivate these significant international relationships for over eight years, shared her thoughts that, ”Businesses will go where the market is, but for competitive markets, an international partnership like this; that helps local companies navigate globally can be the break point for companies´ growth and community win.”
The Swedish delegation consists of the following community and business leaders:
- Kjell Hedvall, Mayor, City of Lidköping
- Bertil Jonsson, Deputy Mayor, City of Lidköping
- Conny Johansson, Mayor, City of Falköping
- Karola Svensson, Deputy Mayor, City of Falköping
- Lena Sjödahl, Vice Mayor City of Falköping
- Pascal Tshibanda, Head of Public & International Relations, City of Falköping
- Magnus Sundén, Director, Economic Development, City of Falköping
- Maria Falegård, Chairwoman, Business Chamber, Falköping Chapter
- Fritiof Schiller, CEO, BS Verkstäder/Machine Shop Company
- Linnea Bengtsson, International Business Developer, City of Lidköping & County of Skaraborg
ABOUT THE RAEDC
The role of the Rockford Area Economic Development Council (RAEDC) is to collaborate with regional stakeholders to cultivate opportunities for primary job growth that increase the economic well-being of our region. The RAEDC markets the region to attract new capital investment, while assisting existing business with resources for sustainable growth. The RAEDC works closely with many partners to improve the competitiveness of the region by taking what it learns from the region’s employers and engaging the community in the daily work of economic development. As the economic development organization for the region, the RAEDC also serves as the area’s data collection agency on all new capital investment, retained and created quality jobs, and renovated commercial/industrial space.