CHICAGO – Gov. Rod R. Blagojevich today announced Illinois achieved record export growth for the third consecutive year. Illinois exports totaled more than $48.73 billion worth of goods and services in 2007, an increase of 15.79 percent from 2006, according to data released from WISER, the World Institute for Strategic Economic Research, who compiles its information from the US Census Bureau, Foreign Trade Division. This record growth maintains Illinois’ place as the fifth largest exporting state in the nation, up from seventh in 2005.
“We are experiencing a national economic slowdown, which has made trade critical to helping stabilize the economy. Illinois companies are being more resourceful and taking advantage of the demand for their products overseas. By exporting more goods, we are creating better jobs for more people here at home,” said Gov. Blagojevich.
The $48.73 billion the state exported in 2007 was an increase of $6.65 billion over 2006, and a nearly 36 percent increase over 2005. This total is nearly 4 percent higher than the national average of 12 percent. Illinois exports have increased close to 90 percent over the 2002 export figure of $25.69 billion. Illinois is now the nation’s fifth ranked exporting state behind only Texas, California, New York and Washington. Direct exports accounted for 7.1 percent of the Gross State Product (GSP) in 2006. Top countries for Illinois’ exports are Canada, Mexico, Germany, Australia, United Kingdom, Japan, Netherlands, China (mainland), Belgium and Brazil. Top sectors include machinery, computers and electronic products and equipment, transportation equipment, chemicals, agricultural/food and kindred products.
“Illinois has seen record increases in trade over the past few years. This is great news because it means the Illinois economy is healthy. The state will continue to seek new opportunities to expand our presence overseas and promote Illinois products and services in the global market,” Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity Director Jack Lavin said.
The Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity (DCEO) is charged with enhancing Illinois’ economic competitiveness by providing technical and financial assistance to businesses, local governments, workers and families. As the state’s lead economic development agency, DCEO works to capitalize on Illinois’ strengths as a center of transportation, manufacturing and technology development.
DCEO’s Office of Trade & Investment (OTI) is Illinois’ lead office in helping to retain and create Illinois jobs by assisting Illinois firms and organizations in forming international partnerships that will expand Illinois exports and increase foreign direct investment.
DCEO-OTI accomplishes its mission through its global network of trade and investment offices anchored by the Chicago headquarter office. DCEO-OTI State of Illinois Trade & Investment Offices world wide are located in: Brussels, Delhi, Hong Kong, Jerusalem, Johannesburg, Tokyo, Toronto, Mexico City, Shanghai and Warsaw. Under the Blagojevich administration, Illinois was the first Midwest state to establish an Office of Trade & Investment in India to assist Illinois firms in one of the world's largest, most promising and expanding markets. This new office strengthens Illinois’ ability to continue delivering aggressive and proactive programs to seek export opportunities for Illinois companies in the key growth markets like India and China.
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, including trade missions to targeted foreign markets. Trade missions provide small and medium-sized companies in Illinois with an avenue to export their products and services by directly engaging foreign buyers, agents, distributors and/or
joint-venture partners and providing additional in-country support. Under Gov. Blagojevich, OTI has led a total of 59 foreign trade missions, more than any other administration. These missions have hosted close to 300 participants and have included high profile trade missions to China and India as well as missions to Australia, Canada, Chile, Germany, Israel, Japan, Mexico, Poland, Spain and South Africa.
OTI is also working to attract essential Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) to Illinois through a host of promotional activities, including FDI seminars and reverse trade missions. Thirty-two FDI programs have already taken place this Fiscal Year, which have included Canada, China, Europe, India, Israel and Japan. Illinois currently ranks first in the Midwest in foreign direct investment. Through strategic promotional seminars overseas and domestically, OTI is continuing to establish foreign investment in Illinois and helping to create more Illinois jobs.
Gov. Blagojevich’s Opportunity Returns regional economic development strategy 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 – each with a regional team that is empowered and expected to rapidly respond to opportunities and challenges. Opportunity Returns is about tangible, specific actions to make each region more accessible, more marketable, more entrepreneurial and more attractive to businesses. It is about upgrading the skills of the local workforce, increasing the access to capital, opening new markets, improving infrastructure, and creating and retaining jobs. Opportunity Returns is about successfully partnering with companies and communities, both large and small, to help all of Illinois reach its economic potential.