Council Plans “Discover Southwest Illinois” to Showcase Region to Foreign Trade & Investment Commissioners

A nonprofit organization actively assisting Metro East companies in exporting and attracting foreign investment is preparing to host international trade delegates in a 2-day inbound trade mission aimed at showcasing the region’s manufacturing, warehouse and distribution assets.

The Southwest Illinois Trade & Investment Council (SWITIC) will host “Discover Southwest Illinois,” a 2-day inbound trade mission promoting Madison, St. Clair and Monroe counties. Silvia Torres Bowman, director of the International Trade Center at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville, says the event will take place May 15-16.

“This inbound trade mission is but one of our organization’s initiatives to help companies across Southwest Illinois develop long-term relationships with their global customers and partners,”Torres Bowman said.

Edie Koch, member of the council’s board of directors and executive director of the Monroe County Economic Development Corporation, has been working steadily to plan the 2-day program and tour. Among those expected to attend are members and representatives of the Chicago International Trade Commissioners Association (CITCA) who serve as information brokers for the Midwest.

“As the official representatives of their countries’ companies, CITCA commissioners serve as facilitators for new trade endeavors and foreign direct investments,” Koch said. “CITCA’s membership includes nearly 50 individuals representing up to 40 countries from across the globe. Our hope is that this visit will acquaint CITCA with the strength and competitive advantages of our region, promote the region as a great place for foreign direct investment and provide the strategic link needed to increase exports from Southwest Illinois.”

David Kniepkamp is chairman of SWITIC’s board of directors and president of Smart Controls LLC, a Southwest Illinois-based manufacturer of automated building controls. Kniepkamp, who regularly exports Smart Controls products globally, encourages businesses in the region to consider taking part in SWITIC’s inbound trade mission, Discover Southwest Illinois, to make one-on-one connections with those directly involved in international trade and foreign direct investment.

“Discover Southwest Illinois is connecting businesses with international trade professionals to develop long-term international trade and investment relationships,” Kniepkamp said. “We look forward to hosting the commissioners and demonstrating viable foreign direct investment and exporting opportunities across our region.”

Exporting companies and economic development leaders will be invited to a reception and dinner to host the commissioners. For more information on Discover Southwest Illinois, contact the International Trade Center at SIUE, (618) 650-2452.

SWITIC has been in existence since 2015.The nonprofit organization educates, equips and connects area businesses with the expertise and contacts to begin or expand exporting their products.

For more information about the Southwest Illinois Trade and Investment Council, see