The Illinois Department of Commerce’s Office of Trade and Investment (OTI) connects Illinois businesses to global opportunities. OTI provides export assistance to companies interested in growing their global footprint. Through a network of trade specialist located in Chicago and 7 well established regional foreign offices, OTI provides businesses with lead generation support and connects companies to foreign governments, chambers of commerce and other strategic partners around the world. Our expert team also leads trade missions, curated overseas tradeshows, and outreach events and seminars.
- Illinois is the largest exporting state in the Midwest and 5th largest in the U.S.
- Exports support over 800,000 jobs in Illinois
- In 2017 Illinois exports increased by 8.6% from the previous year, outperforming the national increase by 30.5%
The Office of Trade and Investment also administers the Illinois State Trade & Export Program (ISTEP), which is partially funded by the Small Business Administration (SBA) STEP grant, of which Illinois has been a top award recipient since 2011. ISTEP provides financial and technical assistance to eligible small businesses, including market research, distributor services, business-to-business matchmaking, international marketing support, product compliance certifications, and the opportunity to participate in Group Trade Missions or Individual Foreign Market Sales Missions.
Since 2011 the ISTEP Program has assisted hundreds of companies grow their businesses through exports.
- ISTEP has supported over 1,200 company missions generating $2.52 billion in export sales and created nearly 3,000 new jobs and retaining nearly 9,000 jobs.
- ISTEP ROI $253 in sales for every $1 invested
- ISTEP has assisted companies in every Illinois U.S. Congressional District