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what’s new from IL Dir of Trade & Investment

Monday 21 September, 2009

I attended this event WHAT IS THE STATE OFFICE OF TRADE AND INVESTMENT DOING TO ENCOURAGE AND HELP ILLINOIS BUSINESSES SUCCESSFULLY COMPETE IN TODAY’S INTERNATIONAL MARKETPLACE? hosted by Business Network Chicago.  Mary Roberts was recently named interim director of the Office of Trade & Investment office of the Illinois Department of Commerce & Economic Opportunity.  She has certainly been making the rounds, as we have crossed paths on a number of occasions lately.

Here’s her presentation ILIntlPresentation & here’s what she had to say:

  • The state of IL has 10 foreign trade offices, the services of which are all available to IL firms for free  There are 6 International Trade Centers to work with businesses in the state.
  • Why should foreign firms open offices in IL?
  • The cost/ft2 for office space is comparatively cheap when compared to the world’s big cities.  Taxes are relatively cheap too, & incentives are available.
  • IL exported $54B in 2008 & was the 6th rank state for exports.  Exports comprise 8.4% of GDP of the state & are responsible for 540K jobs.
  • 1523 foreign companies work out of 5312 locations & employ 275K in Illinois.
  • Chicago is still a logistics hub.  It’s the only place on the continent where all 6 major railroads intersect.  IL has 1118 miles of waterways.  It’s the #1 container hub.
  • In addition Mary shared what she’s learned about international business in her time on the job, i.e., in the U.S., the contract is the focal point of a business relationship.  In the rest of the world, it’s just the last step/consummation  in the process.
  • Gov. Pat Quinn’s goal is to become the #1 green state.

Q&A:

  • to take advantage of international opportunities, give Mary your card & she’ll put your contact information in her database.
  • the state of IL collaborates with the US Dept of Commerce & foreign consulates, depending on the resources available by each.

My take-Illinois does well, but there are other states which have been much more consistent with their international representation.  Gov. Jim Thompson had 12 international offices.  Jim Edgar cut them down to less than a handful.  George Ryan started beefing them up.  Rod Blagojovich continued the trend, & Pat Quinn seems to want to continue it.  But if I’m an Illinois or foreign business person considering working with state of Illinois representatives, I’m not sure how long they’re going to be around.  That’s a big no-no.  Commitment is a big part of the equation.

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