MCILEDC can put you in touch with a variety of state and local programs and services designed to improve your company’s capacity to export and enhance opportunities for Foreign Trade InvestmentsContact us for help in accessing these trade and investment support programs.

MCILEDC, in collaboration with the International Trade Center, the Illinois Trade Office, and the Southwest Illinois Trade and Investment Council, stands ready to address barriers that discourage or limit exports and/or foreign direct investment in the region. We will direct existing and potential global exporters to the exporting assistance programs/services that are available. Some possible activities that the MCILEDC will spearhead are reverse foreign trade missions, individual and group foreign market sales missions, local seminars and events focused on increasing exports and foreign direct investment, participation in trade shows, marketing through the Illinois Foreign Trade offices, mentoring programs to assist businesses interested in starting and increasing exports, and foreign direct investment leads.

The SIUE International Trade Center in Edwardsville provides assistance with international trade and exporting. The Center offers information, counseling, and training to existing and new-to-export companies interested in pursuing international trade opportunities such as:

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

Southwest Illinois Trade and Investment Council. MCILEDC’s membership in this regional organization allows businesses who are currently located, or planning to locate, in the MCILEDC service area to have access to regional trade missions, educational events on exporting, and other service strategies. These events improve chances for success in exporting and foreign direct investment opportunities. For more information go to 

Illinois State and Export Promotion (ISTEP). State Program provides Illinois small businesses with both financial and technical assistance to increase their exports. Assistance provided on a first-come, first-served basis for qualifying companies. There are 5 ISTEP Options to help your business grow. 

  • Qualifying Businesses: Headquartered or substantially located in Illinois; less than 500 employees; in operation for at least one year; has gross annual revenue of at least $250,000 (or in the opinion of ILDCEO-ITA substantially contributes to IL job creation and/or retention efforts.); makes products and/or services containing  51% USA and 25% Illinois content (if not,  substantially contributes to IL job creation and/or retention efforts), and not applying for or receiving  other local, state federal grant funds  associated with export promotion. 
  • Allowable Options: 
    • Group Trade Missions (GTM). Scheduled by  DCEO-ITO on an annual basis focusing on certain sectors. Financial assistance covers trade show booth fees, group ground transportation, matchmaking fees, interpreters, briefing materials, marketing materials, sample shipping and assistance with travel logistics.

Funding Level: 25-75% travel cost reimbursement not to exceed $5K for 2 IL company reps on a roundtrip economy class airfare on a US carrier and standard hotel room. 

    • Individual Foreign Market Sales Missions (IFMSM). For businesses outside of the sectors covered in the ISTEP Group Trade Missions. Program costs can include “Gold Key” services such as matchmaking and trade show participation.

Funding Level: 25-75% travel cost reimbursement not to exceed $10K for 2 IL company reps on a roundtrip economy class airfare on a US carrier and standard hotel room. 

  • Product Compliance Certification (PC). Financial assistance is available to help Illinois’ small and medium-sized businesses obtain compliance certification services for their products in regard to foreign regulations for agricultural products, ISO registration, and packing and recycling laws. Priority will be for lab testing services to achieve product certification. Funding Level: 50% of costs not to exceed $10K per company. 
  • Website Localization and eCommerce (WL). Financial assistance is available for website localization which consists of website translation services, localization for foreign markets, search engine optimization payment functions, hosting, app integration, web services, and cybersecurity; to increase export success. 

Funding level: 50% of costs not to exceed $10K per company.

  • Ex-Im Bank: Export Credit Insurance (ECI). Financial assistance is available for EX IM Banks’ Export Credit Insurance a program that protects an exporter’s accounts receivable from 95% commercial and political loss. Funding Level: 50% reimbursement rate not to exceed $10K per company.

Foreign Trade Zone Benefits. Businesses located in our service area have the option to apply to be a Foreign Trade Zone 31 site. FTZ 31 encompasses a 12-county service area in southwest Illinois:  Monroe, Randolph, St. Clair, Clinton, Washington,  Bond, Calhoun, Greene, Jersey, Macoupin, Madison, and Montgomery counties. Operating under the Alternative Site Framework for Foreign Trade Zones, companies can be designated as an FTZ site within 30 days after filing an application.  

  • Eligible Applicants. Manufacturers and distribution centers, from small to multinational corporations, that import product and  want to improve cash flows, reduce production costs, increase overall profit margins,  and get a competitive edge.  
  • Benefits Available in FTZ . Benefits may include deferral of custom duties while in the Zone; reduction of duties when finished product has rate lower than the imported parts; elimination of duties on goods brought into the Zone and then re-exported; elimination of duties for merchandise that is scrapped, wasted, destroyed, or consumed in the Zone; relief from state and/or local ad valorem taxes on merchandise held in Zone for export; pay only a single entry MPF no matter how many shipments received in a week.
  • How to Apply.  Go to for detailed  information on Foreign Trade Zone #31. If you are a company interested in taking the next steps to becoming a  FTZ Operator. Contact us  and we will   get the FTZ 31 Administrator to the table to help determine if this is an opportunity worth exploring for your organization.