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Illinois State Trade and Export Promotion (ISTEP)

Illinois’ State Trade and Export Promotion (ISTEP) program provides Illinois’ small businesses with both financial and technical assistance to increase their exports. The ISTEP program includes 4 options for Illinois’ companies to grow their export sales:

  1. Group Trade Missions (GTM)

Group Trade Missions are available to a limited number of companies. Qualified businesses will receive:

  • Financial assistance covering associated costs including: trade show booth fees, group ground transportation, matchmaking fees, interpreters, briefing materials, and assistance with travel logistics
  • Financial assistance for 25%-75% travel cost reimbursement, not to exceed $5,000 for travel per company
  • Partial travel reimbursement for two Illinois company representatives, including roundtrip economy class airfare on a US carrier and standard hotel room

See 2019/2020 GTM schedule below:

  1. Individual Foreign Market Sales Missions (IFMSM)

Businesses outside of the sectors represented in the scheduled ISTEP Group Trade Missions are encouraged to undertake an Individual Foreign Market Sales Mission. Qualified businesses will receive:

  • Financial assistance for 25%-75% travel cost reimbursement, not to exceed $7,500 for travel per company
  • Program costs can include gold key services such as matchmaking and trade show participation
  • Partial travel reimbursement for one Illinois company representative, including roundtrip economy class airfare on a US carrier and standard hotel room
  1. Product Compliance Certification (PC)

Financial assistance is available to help Illinois’ small and medium-sized businesses obtain compliance certification services for their products. This assistance is available for measures taken to comply with foreign regulations including those for agricultural products, ISO registration, and packing and recycling laws. Priority will be for lab testing services to achieve product certification, such as CCC mark, CE mark, ISO 9001, ITAR, AS91 00, and ATEX.

  • Financial assistance for 50% of costs, not to exceed $3,000 per company
  • The International Trade Administration’s listing of certifications will be used as a guide to determine the eligibility. This list can be found here
  1. Website Localization (WL)

Financial assistance is available for website localization which consists of website translation services, localization for foreign markets, and SEO to increase opportunities for export success.

  • Financial assistance for 50% of costs, not to exceed $3,000 per company
  1. Export Education Program (EEP)

Financial assistance is available to participate in the Illinois ExporTech program to increase trade knowledge and experience resulting in increased opportunities for export success.

  • Financial assistance not to exceed $1,000 per company

How to Apply

  1. Contact our International Trade Center at 217-378-8535 – mariel@cusbdc.org to determine eligibility and for assistance with completing the application.
  2. Applications should be submitted for consideration at least 60 days in advance
  3. Companies are allowed to travel twice (as part of a group trade mission and/or an individual foreign market sales mission) within one grant period (October 1 to September 29). Companies that have received ISTEP grants to participate in 2 trade shows may still be eligible (if qualified) to take advantage of the product compliance, export education, and website localization financial assistance
  4. Applicable reimbursable expenses are listed on the form. They usually consist of airfare, lodging and basic booth or matchmaking expenses
  5. One approved, funds are given to the company after the trade show, with submission of eligible expenses and the OTI’s post-program survey
  6. Percentage of reimbursement is determined by disadvantage classification

 

The International Trade Center – Illinois Small Business Development Center at Champaign County EDC provides no-cost, customized and confidential one-on-one export/import consulting and training for new and seasoned exporters in international market intelligence, export logistics and compliance, funding resources, foreign customs, among other areas.