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ISTEP Program 

Illinois’ State Trade and Export Promotion (ISTEP) program, supported by both state and federal funding, provides Illinois’ small and medium-sized businesses with both financial and technical assistance to raise the dollar value of their export sales. Federal funding for the ISTEP program is provided through OTI’s SBA State Trade and Export Promotion (STEP) grant award. The ISTEP program includes 3 options for Illinois’ companies to grow their export sales: Group Trade Missions, Individual Foreign Market Sales Missions, and assistance to achieve product compliance certifications.

ISTEP assistance will be provided on a first come, first served basis for all qualifying companies.

Below you will find the ISTEP application. Please contact your nearest SBDC International Trade Center (ITC) or DCEO-OTI Trade Specialist for more information regarding the application process.

2013-2014 ISTEP Brochure

ISTEP Application

ISTEP Application

Find your nearest ITC

DCEO-OTI Staff Contacts

3 ISTEP Options to Help Your Business Grow

Group Trade Missions

Group Trade Missions are available to a limited number of companies. Qualified businesses will receive:

  • Financial assistance covering associated costs including: trade show booth fees, group ground transportation, matchmaking fees, interpreters, briefing materials, and assistance with travel logistics
  • Financial assistance for 25%, 50% or 75% travel cost reimbursement, not to exceed $5,000 for travel per company
  • Partial travel reimbursement for only two Illinois company representatives, which includes economy class airfare and standard hotel room not to exceed the applicable rate established by the U.S. General Services Administration for federal agencies

Group Trade Mission Schedule July 2014 – September 2015

Individual Foreign Market Sales Missions

Businesses outside of the sectors represented in the scheduled ISTEP Group Trade Missions are encouraged to undertake an Individual Foreign Market Sales Mission. Qualified businesses will receive:

  • Financial assistance for 25%, 50% or 75% travel cost reimbursement, not to exceed $7,500 for travel per company
  • Program costs can include gold key services such as matchmaking and trade show participation
  • Partial travel reimbursement for one Illinois company representative, which includes economy class airfare and standard hotel room not to exceed the applicable rate established by the U.S. General Services Administration for federal agencies

Product Compliance Certification

Financial assistance is available to help Illinois’ small and medium-sized businesses obtain compliance certification services for their products. This assistance is available for measures taken to comply with foreign regulations including those for agricultural products, ISO registration, and packing and recycling laws. Qualified businesses will receive:

  • Financial assistance for 50% of costs, not to exceed $5,000
  • The International Trade Administration’s listing of certification will be used as a guide. This list can be found on the export.gov website, HERE.

Is Your Business Eligible?

Illinois businesses must meet the following criteria:

  • In operation for at least one year with 500 employees or fewer
  • Minimum of $250,000 in annual revenue
  • Demonstrates an understanding of the costs associated with exporting
  • Exports products and/or services must contain at least 51% USA and 25% Illinois content, or in the opinion of OTI, the products and/or services to be promoted substantially contribute to Illinois job creation/retention efforts
  • OTI has determined the company has a sound strategy for exporting and is export ready