CHICAGO – April 3, 2012. Governor Pat Quinn today convened the first meeting of the Illinois Export Advisory Council. As part of Governor Quinn’s commitment to strengthen the Illinois economy and create jobs, the group will work with the Governor’s office and recommend strategies to increase trade and business investment in Illinois. Governor Quinn announced the group as part of his growth strategy during his 2012 State of the State Address.
“We have brought together some of the most successful business and economic leaders in the country with the single mission of advancing Illinois’ growth in the global economy,” Governor Quinn said. “Illinois goods and services are among America's best, and our council will bring that message to the world.”
Following the meeting, the Governor and members of the council called on Congress to pass the four-year reauthorization of the Export-Import Bank (Ex-Im Bank) and raise the limit on Ex-Im’s loan portfolio. The Ex-Im Bank has financed exports since 1934, but could close in May without the reauthorization. Over the past five years, the bank has assisted more than 280 Illinois companies, 67 percent of which are the small- and medium-sized businesses that are crucial to Illinois’ economic growth.
Chaired by Navistar Chairman and CEO Daniel C. Ustian, the Council will work to increase exports by providing recommendations on state and federal policies and programs, with the goal of maximizing Illinois’ competitive strengths in the international marketplace. Council members will also serve as international ambassadors for Illinois. Members will work to promote Illinois firms and the inherent advantages Illinois can offer countries seeking trade opportunities. The group’s initial discussions today centered on Illinois’ current trade landscape, opportunities to expand trade, and diverse strategies to drive export growth and open up more global markets to Illinois companies.
The council consists of 21 top Illinois CEOs and private sector leaders that drive international trade for Illinois.
“Creating the environment for Illinois business to grow requires trade policies and practices that make it easy to access the expanding global marketplace,” said Ustian. “Today’s meeting is a great example of the public and private sectors coming together for a common goal. We now have a robust structure in place to gather input from Illinois businesses – from the smallest start-ups to the Fortune 500 – and will move forward with our work to increase exports from Illinois throughout the world.”
Governor Quinn has been one of Illinois’ most active governors when it comes to promoting Illinois on the world stage, recently returning from an economic trade mission to Belgium where he met with key business and economic leaders from countries within the European Union. Also last month, he attended the Canadian Restaurant and Foodservices Association (CRFA) trade show, which is the leading foodservices and hospitality event in Canada, to promote Illinois’ foodservices industry, as well as tourism and life sciences industries. The Governor also led a trade mission to China last fall that resulted in $370 million in new business agreements for Illinois-based companies.
Next week, Governor Quinn will travel to Washington D.C., where he will meet with Brazil President Rousseff and nine governors from Brazil. The Governor will lead a trade mission to Brazil later this year.
Governor Quinn has set an ambitious goal for Illinois to double exports by 2014. Illinois saw a $14.5 billion increase in exports in 2011, representing a nearly 30 percent increase over 2010, which was nearly double the nation’s average growth of 16 percent. January 2012 represented a 12 percent increase over the same period in 2011, compared to the national average of 7.4 percent. Illinois is the sixth largest exporting state in the nation and ranks number one between the coasts for exports and foreign direct investment. There are nearly 1,600 foreign firms in Illinois employing more than 323,000 Illinois residents.
The Governor’s aggressive focus on harnessing and promoting the strength of Illinois companies abroad will have a significant impact on job creation at home. According to the latest U.S. Department of Commerce estimates, reaching Governor Quinn's goal of doubling exports by the end of 2014 will result in the addition or retention of nearly 230,000 jobs in Illinois.
More information about Illinois trade and business opportunities can be found on the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity’s website at www.illinoisbiz.biz.
IEAC Members (PDF, 405 KB)
Photo Collection from the First Meeting of Illinois Export Advisory Council (Flickr)