Under the state’s Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity’s (DCEO) auspices, Illinois’ Office of Trade and Investment has been awarded $850,000 in federal funding to promote small-business growth with an emphasis on expanding exports.
Administered through the Small Business Administration’s State Trade Expansion Program (STEP), the funds will help promote an increase in global trade with Illinois' STEP office offering financial and technical help to eligible small businesses throughout the Prairie State.
“In our increasingly global economy, companies looking to grow need to look beyond domestic markets,” DCEO acting Director Sean McCarthy said. “Illinois companies reported exports of more than $63.4 billion in 2015. STEP will allow the Illinois Department of Commerce to continue to help Illinois companies explore new markets and grow their businesses through our State Trade and Export Promotion program.”
STEP enables firms to extend their reach in international markets. Statistics indicate that for every dollar invested in STEP, U.S. participants report approximately $22 in return due to small business export sales.
Illinois has been awarded almost $3.9 million in STEP funding since the 2011 fiscal year, and is the Midwest’s largest exporter as well as the fifth-largest in the U.S.
Even though small to mid-sized firms make up 98 percent of national exports, the number of companies participating in global exporting amounts to less than 1 percent of all U.S. businesses.