SPRINGFIELD - In an innovative effort to help Illinois businesses establish new markets across the world, Governor Rod Blagojevich today announced that the state would be escorting a delegation of Northeast region companies on a foreign trade mission to China. The Illinois Trade Office China Trade Mission, which gets underway Thursday and runs through May 22, comes as part of Opportunity Returns, the Governor’s soon-to-be-unveiled regional economic development plan designed to create jobs and spur economic growth in the Northeast region and throughout the state. The five Illinois companies traveling to China represent various industries, including architecture design, environmental technology, engineer services, and consulting and construction materials.
“In preparation for hosting the Olympics in Beijing, the World’s Fair in Shanghai, and a host of other landmark events on the horizon, China has become a highly sophisticated consumer with a set of specialized demands that they will look to the world to meet. The Northeast region is home to some of the most innovative, dynamic companies in the country whose industry expertise and business savvy goes unrivaled. By leading this trade mission to China, we are facilitating a match between the skills of Illinois companies and the needs of an expanding foreign market. This trip should help forge relationships that will result in tremendous growth opportunities for these businesses today and tomorrow,” Governor Blagojevich said.
The focus of the mission, which is being staged by the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity (DCEO) and its Illinois Trade Office, is to help Illinois firms explore business opportunities resulting from China’s accession to the World Trade Organization (WTO), 2008 Beijing Olympic Games, 2010 World’s Fair in Shanghai, and other related economic development projects. Specifically, the trade mission will:
- Help Illinois companies pursue export and other new business opportunities in China by introducing them to key host government decision-making officials and to potential business partners;
- Help Illinois firms gain access to the Chinese market and to promote new business for Illinois companies already operating in China’s changing market.
The trade mission will provide participants with exposure to high-level contacts and access to the Chinese market. The American Embassy in China, U.S. Commercial Services in Beijing, Shanghai and Chengdu, and the Illinois Trade Office will provide a detailed briefing on the economic, commercial, and political climate, and current business opportunities. Meetings will be arranged with appropriate government agencies. In addition, private meetings will be scheduled with potential business partners. The Illinois Trade Office will provide key logistical support for these activities throughout the trip.
“China’s accession to the WTO has led to a great increase in Illinois-China trade, and its WTO commitments have opened important new business opportunities for Illinois companies in architecture design, environmental technology, engineering services, and consulting and construction materials sectors, to name just a few. The delegation of Illinois companies on this trade mission are in a great position to capitalize on those opportunities, and we’re really optimistic that this trip is going to play a critical role in helping them do so,” DCEO Director Jack Lavin said.
“We’re thrilled to take part in this trade mission. China is a country where our firm has invested in building relationships over the last several years, and where we've been able to achieve a great amount of success in the design of significant architectural projects. Our goal is to continue exporting our design expertise there, and this trade mission is vitally important in our efforts to do so. It’s clear that the Governor understands the importance of opening new markets for Illinois businesses, and we’re looking forward to this exciting opportunity,” said Donald Hackl, FAIA, President of Loebl Schlossman, & Hackl, a global architecture, planning, and interior design firm headquartered in Chicago.
The other four Illinois companies making up the delegation to China are: Construction Resources in Chicago, Cordogan Clark & Associates in Aurora, EN Engineering in Woodridge, and Lohan International in Chicago.
China’s commitment to environmental protection as a national priority is driving demand for clean energy and other environmental technologies. Clean coal technology, air and water resource management and monitoring, and pollution prevention and control equipment represent several promising areas within these new growth markets. Substantial new demand for construction of new housing and other infrastructure projects is also expected in coming years, particularly with the upcoming 2008 Summer Olympic Games in Beijing and the 2010 World’s Fair in Shanghai. The importance of these events for business opportunities over the next several years will resonate throughout multiple sectors of the Chinese market.
The Opportunity Returns regional economic development plan is the most aggressive, comprehensive approach to creating jobs in Illinois’ history. Since a one-size-fits-all approach to economic development just doesn’t work, the Governor has divided the state into 10 regions – finding areas with common economic strengths and needs, and developing a plan with specific actions for each region. Each plan is tailored to deliver real results that local businesses will see, feel, and, hopefully, profit from. The Governor has already unveiled plans for six of the ten regions – Northern Stateline, Northwest, Southern, North Central, Southwest and West Central regions. He will announce the plans for the East Central, Southeast, Central and Northeast regions in the coming months.