Illinois logs third straight year of increased exports

CHICAGO—Illinois Gov. Rod R. Blagojevich recently announced Illinois’ annual export figures showed significant growth in 2005, marking the third consecutive year of increased exports and the greatest one-year increase in more than 10 years.

Illinois companies exported a record $35.8 billion in 2005, up 18.7 percent from the previous year, according to the World Institute for Strategic Economic Research (WISER), which compiles its data from the U.S. Census Bureau, Foreign Trade Division.

Blagojevich also highlighted the work of the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity’s Office of Trade and Investment (OTI) in helping Illinois companies grow their businesses by pursuing overseas markets.

“We live in a truly global economy which you can either decide to embrace and become a part of or miss out on entirely,” Blagojevich said. “It is clear that Illinois companies are not letting the mountain of global opportunities pass them by, and they are aggressively taking advantage of all that international trade has to offer. This data is another positive indicator of Illinois’ competitiveness overseas, which we expect will keep growing as we continue helping more and more Illinois companies pursue business opportunities across the globe. By increasing these opportunities, we are creating more jobs for our working families across the state.”

Illinois’ total exports for 2005 represented a $5.6 billion increase from 2004, one of the largest increases by any state and the largest percent increase among the other states in the top eight.

Illinois is the sixth-largest exporting state after Texas, California, New York, Washington and Michigan. Direct exports amounted to approximately 6 percent of the Gross State Product (GSP) in 2004, and there are an estimated 485,600 Illinois jobs supported by exports.

Top countries for Illinois’ exports are Canada, Mexico, Japan, the United Kingdom, Germany and Australia. Top sectors include machinery, computers/electronic products, chemicals, transportation equipment, and agricultural, food and kindred products.

The Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity’s OTI offers a variety of export development assistance programs to help Illinois companies identify new markets and locate distribution channels for their products and services abroad. OTI sponsors sector-specific trade missions to targeted foreign markets, which provide Illinois firms with an avenue to pursue the export of their products and services by directly engaging foreign buyers, agents, distributors and/or joint-venture partners.

In 2005, OTI led 17 foreign trade missions to countries such as Australia, Canada, Chile, China, Germany, India, South Africa and Mexico, with 22 trade missions expected in 2006.

Through the Illinois Entrepreneurship Network (IEN), small and medium-sized businesses also receive counseling and technical assistance in exporting their goods and services. The Illinois Trade Centers (ITC) and NAFTA Opportunity Centers (NOC) offer expertise and assistance with all facets of exporting with specialists who work one-on-one with new-to-export firms. There are six ITCs and two NOCs statewide.

State Sen. Martin Sandoval (D-Cicero), chairman of Commerce and Economic Development Committee, said: “Gov. Blagojevich and I are thrilled with the news that Illinois exports are up nearly 19 percent in 2005. This validates our belief that one of the most important ways we can grow our economy and create more jobs is by helping open up new markets for Illinois companies overseas,”

OTI is also working to attract essential Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) to Illinois, though a host of promotional activities, including FDI seminars and reverse trade missions. Illinois ranks No. 1 in the Midwest for FDI with more than 5,400 foreign firms and locations, which employ more than 265,000 people. Through strategic promotional seminars overseas and domestically, OTI is continuing to cultivate foreign investment in Illinois and growing jobs in the economy.

Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity Director Jack Lavin said: “Gov. Blagojevich and I understand the importance of opening new markets for Illinois businesses, which allow them to cultivate fruitful partnerships all over the world. We are encouraged by the tremendous success Illinois is having on the global stage, and are committed to continue opening new doors and identifying new opportunities for Illinois companies to grow and expand.”

For more information about all OTI’s programs, visit

For more trade statistics and information about WISER, visit

From the March 8-14, 2006, issue

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