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ISTEP Program

​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 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.

Below you will find the ISTEP application. Please contact your nearest SBDC International Trade Center (ITC) or Department of Commerce OTI Trade Specialist for more information regarding the application process.


Funded in part through a grant with U.S. Small Business Administration.


 

5 ISTEP Options to Help Your Business Grow

 
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 
 
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.
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.  Qualified businesses will receive:
  • Financial assistance for 50% of costs, not to exceed $2,000 per company.
  • The International Trade Administration’s listing of certification will be used as a guide. This list can be found on the export.gov website, HERE.

Website Localization (WL)

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

  • Financial assistance for 50% of costs, not to exceed $3,000 per company.

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.

 

Is Your Business Eligible?

Illinois businesses must meet the following criteria:
  • An Illinois firm, in operation for at least one year, with 500 employees or fewer
  • Minimum of $250,000 in annual revenue
  • Demonstrates an understanding of the costs associated with exporting
  • Exports products and/or services must contain at least 51% USA and 25% Illinois content, or in the opinion of OTI, the products and/or services to be promoted substantially contribute to Illinois job creation/retention efforts
  • OTI has determined the company has a sound strategy for exporting and is export ready
  • The Company is not applying for or receiving any other Local, State, or Federal grant funds associated with export promotion assistance from any outside sources for the mission, compliance, or support, except for ExporTech program, for which this application requests funds from DCEO-OTI.
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