July 17, 2024

Eye On Illinois: Expect a victory lap on another great year of export sales

Texas. California. New York. Louisiana. Illinois.

That’s a ranking of states in terms of international sales. According to the U.S. Department of Commerce, Illinois businesses did more than $78.7 billion in export business last year, besting sixth-place Florida by almost $10 billion (and trailing the Pelican State by $21 billion).

The Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity issued a release Tuesday promoting the 2023 figures, citing federal data showing an export increase of 32% since 2019 and singling out Mexico as the key driver of recent growth.

The agency also touted its role, pointing to a program that allows companies to seek up to $25,000 per year – through the federal Small Business Association – to “fund international expansion initiatives, including exhibiting in foreign trade shows and marketing products to international buyers.”

It doesn’t take too long on the DCEO website to get lost in the alphabet soup of state agencies working on these projects. There’s OTI (the Office of Trade and Investment) and FDI (Foreign Direct Investment), FTZ (Foreign Trade Zone, eight spread across Illinois, with 29 subzones) and then the acronyms for incentive programs like EDGE, BDPIP, HIB and LBDP.

You can dig into the data yourself at trade.gov, isolating Illinois and then sorting by more than 30 product categories like Minerals & Ores ($96 million to Morocco in 2023) or Processed Foods ($1.57 billion to Canada). This is another good way to get lost – who in St. Vincent and the Grenadines is importing $1 million of Illinois-made goods? – but it all points to the same conclusion: business is booming.

These billions of dollars in sales, according to Gov. JB Pritzker, “support countless jobs across the state – a sign of a thriving economy. I’m also thankful to the broad array of industries who contributed to this milestone. Their robust selection of goods and services signal to the world that a trade partnership with Illinois is good for business.”

The business community should take pride in this report, but any political benefit will require a strong public relations effort to cross over to the average voter and explain the state’s investment and success.

ON THIS DAY: Today we honor Lloyd Hall, born 130 years ago in Elgin before moving to Aurora, and Thomas Jefferson, born in Chicago, 1920. The latter was a noted Dixieland jazz trumpeter whose career took off in New Orleans as a teenager. He briefly appeared in 1975′s “Hard Times,” featuring Charles Bronson, but can still be heard today on various streaming services.

Hall, whose grandmother arrived in Illinois on the Underground Railroad, was a notable chemist with 59 patents, primarily in food preservation. The National Inventors Hall of Fame said his products helped to “revolutionize the meatpacking industry.”

• Scott T. Holland writes about state government issues for Shaw Local News Network. Follow him on X @sth749. He can be reached at sholland@shawmedia.com.

Scott Holland

Scott T. Holland

Scott T. Holland writes about state government issues for Shaw Media Illinois. Follow him on Twitter at @sth749. He can be reached at sholland@shawmedia.com.