Southwest Illinois Trade and Investment Council Launches Website

A nonprofit organization that is actively assisting Metro East companies in exporting is now equipping them with a brand-new online resource.

The Southwest Illinois Trade and Investment Council (SWITIC), a regional organization formed nearly three years ago to equip area businesses with the expertise and contacts to export their products globally, announces the launch of its website,

St. Clair County Board Chairman Mark Kern said the website snugly fits into the Council’s mission to raise awareness of global exporting and foreign direct investment as an opportunity for economic stability and growth in Southwest Illinois.

“Importing activity across St. Clair County and the region is already strong,” Kern. “Exporting is what we as a region really need to increase. Agricultural and manufacturing exporting is very big on both sides of the river. We need to continue growing that sector, but also encouraging and supporting other sectors with resources that enable their entry into the exporting realm to be smooth and successful. The Southwest Illinois Trade and Investment Council is the organization that can make that happen,” he added.

Terry Beach, director of economic development for St. Clair County, said the county has played an active role in supporting SWITIC since the council began in 2015. “Exporting and foreign investment in our region is vitally important to all of us,” Beach said. “Everyday our county is working the cargo market, searching out additional opportunities. Chairman Kern, MidAmerica Director Tim Cantwell and I have participated in trade missionsto Canada, Mexico, Costa Rica and China to further our exporting strategy and solidify new trade relationships. We think SWITIC and its new website is a great opportunity for companies across our region to tap into the expertise resources necessary to determine the ideal global market for their products.”

Gaining expertise on how to protect proprietary technology and other such legalities that commonly arise as an issue when considering exporting is one way SWITIC can assist a company, according to Beach. “In order to be successful on an international stage, a company needs to accomplish a lot of due diligence related to issues including tariffs, duties, tax laws, irrevocable letters of credit, political climates, product demand and more. SWITIC is the ideal regional organization to equip them and connect them to statewide, federal and international partners, too.”

According to the U.S. Department of Commerce, nearly 98 percent of the world’s consumers live outside of the U.S. and approximately 70 percent of the purchasing power is located beyond U.S. borders. These facts demonstrate the potential that exporting offers companies across Southwest Illinois, Beach said.

“Small and medium-sized companies account for 98 percent of U.S. exporters but represent less than one-third of the known export value of U.S.  goods’ exports,” he added. “In St. Clair County, we’re blessed to have all four of the big grain traders, also known as the ABCDs: Archer Daniels Midland (ADM), Bunge, Cargill and Louis Dreyfus. In addition to these, we’re home to The ROHO Group (Permobil) and other companies that are regular exporters. Educating other business owners and operators and letting them know that SWITIC exists to help them build their own path to global markets is extremely important. This new website will help us do just that.”

SWITIC Board Chairman David Kniepkamp said his company, Smart Controls, LLC, regularly exports its products to several countries. Selecting specific markets for a company’s products and navigating through the maze of regulatory issues to iron out a clear path toward successful exporting are ways in which SWITIC stands ready to help.

“Identifying and forming strategies to address existing barriers that discourage or limit exporting from our region is also part of our overall mission,” said Kniepkamp. “Encouraging existing and potential global exporters here to support services that improve their chances for success in the global marketplace is what our organization does. Our opportunity as a region is also Southwest Illinois businesses’ opportunity to gain economic stability through exporting their products globally.”