Illinois Northwest Region


The Northwest Region is located within 300 miles of Chicago with access to over 30 million people, customers, markets and suppliers.  This diverse region of the state is thriving and has seen a significant increase in economic growth over the last 10 years.  The people and businesses of the Northwest region are enjoying an increased quality of life; including amenities, strong school systems, and an affordable cost of living.  From the Mississippi River transport capabilities to the Hennepin Canal, Interstate Highways to railroads and bike trails, The Northwest region offers unparalleled access to major Midwestern and global markets.  Also located within the region are 4 top Universities and 4 Community Colleges.

Companies in the Northwest region rely on a productive, technically minded workforce.  This region has the ideal location to grow your business, with access to financial assistance programs through regional, state and federal economic development funds.  Companies located in this region have been here for generations.  These companies include industry giants include; John Deere & CompanyArconic, 3M, the Rock Island Arsenal, HNI CorporationKraft HeinzXPAC and thousands of others.

The Northwest region also offers a multitude of activities for recreational and outdoor enthusiasts.  Regional and national visitors enjoy tourism in for a variety of different reasons:

  • Nationally recognized festivals and events
  • Diverse arts, culture, and theater
  • Historic parks, outdoor recreation and scenic spaces
  • Hundreds of miles of trails for walking, biking and hiking

Visit Ronald Reagan’s birthplace, take a cruise down the mighty Mississippi River or visit historic Starved Rock State Park; The Northwest Region truly has it all.



Target industries are the backbone of any region and the Northwest is no exception.  With a highly productive workforce and cutting edge innovation, this region is a hub place for these top industries:

  • Corporate operations
  • Agricultural innovation
  • Advanced metals and materials

Home to the Rock Island Arsenal Joint Manufacturing and Technology Center, a leading producer of weapons for the Department of Defense and is the largest Quad Cities employer with over 7,000 employees. The Northwest Region is known for some of the strongest metals and materials industries in the nation.  The Quad City Manufacturing Laboratory (QCML) is the new Center of Excellence for research, development and training in advanced materials and manufacturing techniques. Located in the Quad Cities, Arconic, a global leader in aerospace engineering, is working with advanced materials to build concepts and change the shape of the industry.  There are over 140 licensed grain dealers in the 10 county Northwest Region. They include Cargill and Bunge, major international conglomerates, as well as family operations and farmer cooperatives.  KONE, a global leader in the elevator and escalator industry.  KONE selected Moline for their new KONE Americas Operations Center and for the fifth year running, KONE has been included in the Forbes list of the 100 most innovative companies in the world.
With the highest concentration of production workforce in the country, the Northwest is the most productive in the country.  Over the last 10 years 2004-2014 targeted growth sectors and regional headquarters are thriving, with growth equaling up to 39%.  Key regional advantages include:

  • Multimodal transportation options: road, rail, river, runway
  • Power rates in the lowest 20% in the nation, with nearly 40% coming from renewable sources
  • Foreign Trade Zone
  • Workforce training resources
  • 37 million people living within a 300-mile radius

Perhaps the most recognizable Corporate Head Quarters in the region is the legacy of John Deere and Company.  Many local manufacturers supply parts for Deere, and therefore must be able to satisfy the explicit engineering and craftsmanship Deere demands. The Deere brand speaks to our local workforce, immediate transport capabilities, and the finest staff of engineers anywhere. 

“Midwest Work Ethic” is alive and well in the Northwest Region.



There are two major 4 year Universities and 4 community colleges within the Northwest Region. Western Illinois University (WIU) offers a variety of bachelor's and master's degree programs, to more than 10,000 students. WIU has an engineering school on its Quad City Moline campus working directly with John Deere. Black Hawk College, with campuses in Moline and Kewanee is a community college that offers more than 150 career, certificate and transfer programs.  Augustana, a  4 year college; ranks among the top 40 U.S. liberal arts colleges in the sciences, based on the number of graduates earning Ph.D's.

As many expansion decisions are driven by workforce demands, much of the heavy lifting of employee training has already been done with the training centers located at the 4 Community Colleges within the Northwest in Kewanee, Oglesby, Dixon, and Elizabeth. The four Community Colleges have new and innovative training programs satisfying the requirements of John Deere and dozens of other companies large and small.

Illinois Valley Community College in Oglesby, has recently completed and opened the nearly 80,000-square-foot Community Technology Center (CTC) which will also be home to critical student services including counseling, financial aid and admissions and community strengthening programs such as Continuing Education and Adult Education.

Higher education in the population center of Rock Island and Moline are just a few acres away from farms and villages with the small town appeal many desire.



Click here to learn more about this region’s population statistics, local workforce area, community college district boundaries and locations, demographics (such as percentage of veterans, household income, educational attainment, and poverty level), employment projections by industry, and community college graduates by career cluster. 



Adrian Madunic
(217) 299-5532

The Illinois Department of Commerce is Your One-Stop Resource

  • Site Selection
  • Customized Workforce Training
  • Regional & Local Collaboration
  • Expedited Permitting, Licensing & Other Approvals
  • Connection to Key Stakeholders and Civic & Business Partners
  • Potential Financial Support
  • And More!