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Illinois Awarded $700,000 to Support Small Business Exports
Illinois Ag Connection - 10/12/2018

The Illinois Department of Commerce & Economic Opportunity's Office of Trade and Investment (OTI) has received $700,000 in federal funds to support export growth within Illinois small businesses. The funds were awarded through the Small Business Administration's competitive State Trade Expansion Program.

"Exports play a vital role in the Illinois economy," said Director of OTI Margo Markopoulos. "International sales stimulate job growth at home, supporting over 800,000 Illinois jobs. Through the Illinois State Trade and Export Promotion (ISTEP) program, our office continues to grow our exports and help Illinois small businesses realize the sales opportunities available to them in established and emerging markets across the globe."

The ISTEP program provides financial assistance to Illinois small businesses entering or expanding to new international markets. Qualified Illinois businesses can use the ISTEP program financial assistance for state-organized group trade missions, individual foreign market sales missions, product compliance, website localization, and export training. The ISTEP program is highly competitive. Applications are accepted throughout the year and are considered on a rolling basis.

In Fiscal Year 2019, OTI will lead trade missions to 16 international markets:

- WETEX 2018: Dubai, UAE | October 2018

- MEDICA: Dusseldorf, Germany | November 2018

- Arab Health: Dubai, UAE | January 2019

- Mobile World Congress: Barcelona, Spain | February 2019

- Israel Multi-Sector Trade Mission |February 2019

- Water Philippines: Manila, Philippines | March 2019

- Brazil and Colombia Multi-Sector Trade Mission |March 2019

- Ethiopia and Kenya Multi-Sector Trade Mission | March 2019

- South Korea Multi-Sector Trade Mission | April 2019

- IE Expo: Shanghai, China | April 2019

- SIAL Canada: Toronto, Canada | April/May 2019

- Africa Health: Johannesburg, South Africa | May 2019

- Expo Pack: Guadalajara, Mexico | June 2019

- Paris Air Show: Paris, France | June 2019

- FOOMA: Tokyo, Japan | July 2019

OTI group trade missions provide Illinois small businesses with a unique international sales experience that is custom tailored to maximize the company's efforts and opportunities to promote its products and services to new customers. Missions incorporate a variety of industries such as aerospace, food processing, environmental technology, life sciences and medicine, and packaging.

"EP Purification had only three employees when it first began using the ISTEP program in 2013," said Sung-Jin Park, Chief Technology Officer at EP Purification, "Since then, we have effectively integrated the ISTEP program into our business plan to increase sales through attending trade missions that provided us with exhibition booth space, B2B matchmaking, and logistics support."

EP Purification, of Champaign, Illinois, is just one example of a company that has successfully utilized the ISTEP program to successfully promote its products internationally. Today, EP Purification has export sales to 35 different countries and proudly employs 22 individuals at their Champaign manufacturing facility.

For more information on Illinois trade opportunities, visit

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