Skip to main content

Press Releases

No Data

Gov. Pritzker Announces $2.6 Million Investment to Further Strengthen Aviation Mechanic Pipeline in Rockford

Press Release - Thursday, January 26, 2023

Investment Will Support Workforce Training and Development Program, Including 80 Apprenticeships in High-Demand Aviation Maintenance Industry

ROCKFORD - Governor JB Pritzker today joined AAR CORP. and local officials and partners to announce a $2.6 million investment to support and expand workforce training, pipeline development and 80 apprenticeships at AAR's Maintenance, Repair and Overhaul (MRO) facility at the Rockford International Airport (RFD). Today's announcement builds on the state's FY22 investment that helped bolster AAR CORP's comprehensive workforce strategy as it increased the number of aviation mechanics hired from 85 in 2019 to more than 350 in 2023.

"When we invest in Rockford's airport and the programs it boasts, we invest in Rockford's people — advancing opportunity for every Northern Illinoisan," said Governor JB Pritzker. "Illinois is already a transportation powerhouse, and by working in close collaboration with our state's powerhouse aviation companies, we are laying the groundwork to keep our communities connected, and competitive, for years to come."

The state's $5.2 million cumulative investment in FY22 & FY23 strengths the aviation mechanic pipeline to meet growing demand. Through AAR's comprehensive workforce strategy, the state's funding supports apprenticeship opportunities, employee advancement training, hiring of training personnel, and bolsters partnerships with Rock Valley College and high schools throughout Northern Illinois in order to strengthen the pipeline of qualified aviation mechanics.

"AAR works diligently with educational partners, like Rock Valley College, to create career paths in aviation maintenance," said John M. Holmes, AAR's Chairman, President, and CEO. "We're grateful for the State's investment in these initiatives. Not only does the grant enable our efforts to go further, it's also a testament to the positive impact workforce development efforts have on individuals, community, and industry."

"AAR's workforce strategy has strengthened the region's robust aviation ecosystem by forging partnerships between the state, local governments, businesses, workforce and education partners," said DCEO Acting Director Kristin A. Richards. "Rockford and the surrounding region are creating a truly comprehensive pipeline of aviation mechanics to help meet the needs of a growing industry."

By leveraging partnerships and state funding, AAR has expanded its comprehensive workforce strategy to offer a wide array of programming, including high school aviation programs, an Aviation Sheet Metal course at Olive Harvey College in Chicago, the AAR Fellows Program in partnership with RVC and the Aviation Institute of Maintenance (AIM), and the development of a new Airframe and Powerplant test prep course that prepares current AAR employees with resources for the FAA knowledge, oral and practical exams.

The state funds will also continue to support 80 apprenticeship opportunities and short-term credentialing programs and incentives for experienced technicians to relocate to the Rockford area.

"I'm grateful to Governor Pritzker for once again making sure Rockford has what it needs to thrive," said Rockford Mayor Tom McNamara. "The investments in the AAR training and workforce development are critical projects to our community and our residents."

RFD serves as a critical economic driver in the region, supporting more than 21,476 jobs and accounting for approximately $4.7 billion in economic impact. With global companies like United Airlines and AAR headquartered in Illinois, building the aviation mechanic pipeline bolsters Illinois' reputation a global aviation leader. The State is expected to see continued growth in the years ahead, with an industry report estimating that over 600,000 maintenance technicians will be needed globally in the years ahead.

"The Chicago-Rockford International Airport is a strong economic driver in the region, creating thousands of jobs," said State Sen. Steve Stadelman (D-Rockford). "This investment in AAR supports the continued economic impact and job creation of the airport by creating a strong pipeline of aviation mechanics and expanding opportunities for Illinoisans."

"This investment helps create good-paying jobs and bolster the Rockport Airport's economic impact and the transportation sector as a whole," said State Rep. Dave Vella (D-Rockford). "By focusing investments on high-demand and high paying careers, we are both expanding opportunities for Illinoisans while helping meet a critical industry need in the aviation sector."

"Rockford's airport is a bedrock of economic activity in the state and the region," said State Rep. Maurice West (D-Rockford). "Thanks to investments by Governor Pritzker, and AAR's ongoing commitment to creating a strong workforce pipeline, we're strengthening the workforce and the airport's reputation as a global economic power house."

DCEO has awarded a $2.6 million grant to the Workforce Connection (TWC) a DCEO Apprenticeship Navigator. TWC works with AAR to provide curriculum enhancements to Rock Valley Community College's Airframe and Powerplant Program needed to prepare mechanics for today's demands with an increased focus on transport category aircraft and systems.

Investments in aviation workforce training build on the Pritzker administration's efforts to increase career training opportunities for residents across the state and in a variety of industries, which includes investments specifically in aviation mechanic training, manufacturing training academies, and supporting partnerships between businesses and local higher education institutions. The program also supports the State's goal of prioritizing the expansion of apprenticeship programs - which help Illinoisians secure good-paying jobs.

Press Releases

No Data