Illinois is a global export powerhouse, sending overseas in 2012 alone more than $68 billion in goods and services, a number equal to nearly 10 percent of the gross state product.
For international companies doing business in North America and U.S. firms exporting their products to markets around the world, Illinois is the perfect business address.
Illinois is a global economic powerhouse, exporting in 2012 alone more than $68 billion, a number equal to nearly 10 percent of the gross state product. In fact, Illinois is the largest exporting state in the Midwest and the fifth-largest in the United States.
Those numbers continue to grow. Between 2009 and 2012, Illinois exports increased by $26.4 billion, or 63 percent, a pace far above the national average of 47 percent, says Dan Seals, assistant director of the Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity.
And Illinois businesses are increasingly seeking opportunities in the international marketplace, creating new revenue streams and new jobs. Since 80 percent of global buying power is outside the United States, exporting helps Illinois businesses, families and communities prosper. The state offers both logistical and financial support to help businesses enter new markets and grow their businesses globally.
“Exports are responsible for creating and retaining hundreds of thousands of jobs in Illinois. That’s why the Office of Trade and Investment works to help companies identify global market opportunities and promote their products around the world,” DCOE Deputy Director Daniel Goff says.
Top export markets include Canada, Mexico, China, Australia and Germany. Major export categories include machinery, light oil, tractors and heavy equipment, agricultural products, and motor vehicle parts.
For international companies seeking to do business in the United States, Illinois is a gateway to domestic markets. The state’s positive business climate, educated workforce and global transportation links are among the attributes making it the No. 1 location in the Midwest as a destination for foreign direct investment. More than 2,000 foreign firms employ more than 350,000 Illinois residents.
The state’s Office of Trade and Investment works to showcase Illinois’ strengths around the globe and bring more jobs to the state from abroad. The department’s 10 overseas offices serve as the state’s eyes and ears globally, working to spot trends and encourage investment. The offices hold regular FDI outreach events as well as provide foreign companies with information on state services.
“Illinois has the 19th-largest economy in the world and is at the forefront of the 21st-century global economy. It is no wonder that 32 Fortune 500 companies are located in Illinois. From our top-notch university system to our unmatched transportation network to our world-class cultural attractions, Illinois has all the pieces businesses need to succeed,” Goff says.
Innovative companies such as AIM – Automated Industrial Machinery – and Lamboo give Illinois a global economic presence. Both were Governor’s Export Award recipients in 2013.
AIM manufactures industrial CNC bending machinery. The company began exporting in 1995 and has established markets around the world. AIM serves contract fabricators and manufacturers. Its equipment supports construction, automotive, medical, point-of-purchase display, refrigeration, food service, HVAC, storage, material handling and many other OEM manufacturers.
Lamboo manufactures performance-based engineered bamboo for structural, architectural and industrial applications worldwide.
“Lamboo’s vision is to combine high-performance technology with sustainability. We see great potential for growth as the green building and ecological innovation wave within primary industries continues to spread across the globe,” says Luke Schuette, the company’s founder and president.
The state offers support to exporters in several ways. The Illinois Office of Trade and Investment manages the Illinois State Trade & Export Promotion (ISTEP) program, which offers small- and medium-sized enterprises financial and technical assistance to help grow export sales. This program is supported by both state and federal funding.
The ISTEP program includes three options for Illinois’ companies to grow their export sales:
- Group trade missions offer companies financial and logistical support to attend trade shows as part of an organized Illinois delegation.
- The Individual Foreign Market Sales Mission Program allows companies to receive financial assistance to participate in overseas trade shows and to attend matchmaking meetings with potential partners and agents.
- The Product Compliance Certification Program offers businesses financial and technical assistance to complete product compliance certifications required for exporting.
STEP Grants are rewarded on a first-come, first-served basis for all qualifying companies.
Along with exporting, FDI is growing in Illinois. Aisin Electronics, for example, is investing $32.8 million to expand in Marion. The tier one auto supplier is nearly tripling the size of its operations and creating 80 full-time jobs. The 108,005-square-foot expansion will be located adjacent to the current 57,600-square-foot facility.
As a global, tier one automotive supplier, Aisin has nearly 180 companies in communities all over the world, says John D. Koenig, sales and marketing president of Aisin World Corp. of America.
“There is no question that much of our success is based on the community support we receive and the strong workforce provided by our local partners like Marion and Williamson County,” he says. “We’re excited about our expansion, and look forward to an ongoing and productive relationship in the future.”
The state’s Office of Trade and Investment works to showcase Illinois’ strengths around the globe and bring more jobs to the state from abroad. The department’s 10 overseas offices serve as Illinois’ eyes and ears globally, working to spot trends and encourage investment. The offices hold regular FDI outreach events as well as provide foreign companies with information on state services.