State and Local Trade Programs

There are a number of excellent state and local trade assistance providers in Illinois to help you develop export sales.

Office of Trade and Investment,
Illinois Department of Commerce & Economic Opportunity

The Illinois DOC Office of Trade and Investment (OTI) opens overseas markets for Illinois companies and promotes foreign direct investment in Illinois.  With headquarters in Chicago and 6 foreign offices around the world, the OIT is dedicated to helping small and medium sized businesses expand their global reach and export abroad.

OTI’s Illinois State Trade and Export Promotion (ISTEP) program provides Illinois’ small businesses with both financial and technical assistance to increase their exports. The program includes 5 options for Illinois’ companies to grow their export sales: Group Trade Missions (GTM), Individual Foreign Market Sales Missions (IFMSM), and Product Compliance (PC), Website Localization (WL) and Export Education Program (EEP). ISTEP assistance will be provided on a first come, first served ​basis for all qualifying companies. To download the ISTEP application click here. For questions, email or call 312.814.2828.

SBDC International Trade Centers

​Illinois International Trade Centers provide assistance with international trade and exporting. The centers offer information, counseling and training to existing and new-to-export companies interested in pursuing international trade opportunities. Their services include:

  • Evaluation of company’s readiness to export
  • Access to foreign market information
  • Documentation assistance
  • Automated trade leads
  • Linkages with overseas trade representatives

Click here to find ITCs in your area, or call: 1.800.252.2923, email:, or Submit a Question.

Illinois Chamber – International Business Council

The Illinois Chamber launched the International Business Council in May 2013 to take a leadership role in international trade policy and increase global trading opportunities for Illinois businesses. The IBC focuses on building strategic partnerships to maximize the resources of the Illinois Chamber’s members to expand in foreign markets and foster trade and investment in Illinois. The Council’s outreach includes a high worth global network of diplomatic missions, foreign government agencies and business organizations.  Its services include:

  • Demand-based collaboration: IBC help companies expand their customer base into international markets by providing direct access to resources, business leads and connections with foreign offices and business organizations.
  • Foreign Trade Missions Assistance: IBC host meetings with visiting dignitaries and commercial delegates to find and connect with Illinois based suppliers of goods and services.
  • Soft-Landing: IBC facilitates international firms’ establishment and growth in Illinois through advocacy and partnership building with strategic sectors and stakeholders to provide easy conduit for engagement, guidance and exposure.
  • Global Engagement: IBC serves as a forum for senior U.S. officials, foreign dignitaries and member companies to share, promote and better understand International trade policy and market priorities in the region. IBC hosts and co-hosts meetings, conferences and informational sessions that break down siloes and exposes Illinois businesses to research about potential markets to consider exports and trade.

Illinois Department of Agriculture 

Since 1968, the Illinois Department of Agriculture has actively and aggressively engaged in international market development and product promotion for the state’s food and agribusiness sectors.  The IDOA Bureau of Marketing, Promotion and Grants utilizes International Trade Shows and Agribusiness Tours, among other projects to achieve its goals. They also utilize International Offices in Hong Kong and Mexico and partner with other Export Organizations when their mission allign. The Department maintains close contacts with the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Foreign Agricultural Service to help Illinois firms gain access to federal marketing programs.  IDOA is a member of the Food Export Association of the Midwest USA, which helps coordinate export education and market entry opportunities for processed food and agricultural products from 12 Midwestern states.

Study Illinois

Study Illinois is an international education consortium of Illinois educational institutions that are pooling their resources to market their programs internationally, and make Illinois as a premier study destination for international students.  Illinois ranks 5th in the nation in terms of its number of international students, a ranking which has improved since the launching of Study Illinois.  In ta typical academic year, over 46,500 international students study in Illinois, and had a positive economic impact (education services exports) on the state in excess of $1.4 billion. The program is helped by its close association with the U.S. Commercial Service (CS), receiving extensive exposure to universities, study abroad agencies, and students around the world.