The Global Trade Economy in Central Illinois

by Cindy Patterson
Economic Development Council for Central Illinois

The warp and weft of businesses across the globe became vehemently apparent as the current financial situation unfolded. Companies and countries around the world depend on each other for the exchange of goods, services and wealth. But does global trade really matter in our region?

Trade matters here in central Illinois, according to Jim Foley, director of Bradley University’s two trade centers. Companies that invested in export growth during the early to mid-2000s will be grateful for their foreign markets during the global financial crisis. “We encouraged companies to expand their number of foreign markets to take advantage of the low dollar and fast-growing emerging markets. We had record levels of economic impact from our clients during the past few years. In 2004, they reported just over $28 million in export sales. By 2008, that reached more than $110 million and the creation of over 200 new jobs. And these are all relatively small companies.”

Jim McConoughey, CEO of The Heartland Partnership, cautions, “Notwithstanding this past success, companies will likely see a downturn in exports as consumer demand contracts in most foreign markets. Companies with strong distributor relationships or overseas offices will be relatively less affected than companies with no current presence in those same markets.” Still, companies will need to continue their investment in export development—which is why our ongoing efforts to harness the area’s international trade expertise and coordination are even more critical.

Tools and specialists
For central Illinois companies to survive and thrive in this economy, they will need every advantage. The Foreign Trade Zone #114 offers another tool in their kit for success. Foreign Trade Zones (FTZ) are ideal for companies that assemble or process products that consist of foreign or co-mingled foreign and domestic components. A foreign trade zone is a designated site licensed by the federal Foreign-Trade Zones Board at which special customs procedures may be used. These procedures allow domestic activity involving foreign items to take place prior to formal customs entry. FTZ 114 is administered in our region by the EDC for Central Illinois. It can offer timely financial benefits, including assembly cost savings and lower customs duties, in addition to convenience and flexibility in inventory staging, product showcasing and quota compliance. To find out more about the advantages of FTZ#114, contact EDC Director of Business Development Sally Hanley.

The Illinois SBDC International Trade and NAFTA Opportunity Centers at Bradley University have announced two new staff members. NAFTA Trade Specialist Beatriz Poloney, brings more than 20 years of international business experience, including significant NAFTA and documentation experience, and previous positions with two area companies. Originally from Colombia, she obtained her business degree from Escuela de Administracion de Negocios in Bogota and worked for over ten years with the Columbian Caterpillar dealer in the finance office. After moving to the Peoria area, she joined Dynamic Graphics as the Latin America and Caribbean Marketing and Sales Coordinator. In 1999, she joined 4B Components Ltd. as the Latin America Sales Director. Beatriz may be reached at

Jim Ryan is the new International Trade Specialist. He brings with him a wealth of overseas experience and a passion for international trade. Jim, a native Peorian, received his BA from Stetson University and an LL.B from the University of Glamorgan School of Law and Finance in Wales. After completing his law degree, he received a diploma in International and Comparative Law at Oxford University and returned to the U.S. to receive an LL.M in International and Comparative Law from the University of San Diego School of Law. Jim has taught at universities in Singapore and Malaysia and worked for technology firms in Asia, where he held positions in international business development, concentrating on foreign market entry and start-up operations in Southeast Asia, the U.K. and the U.S. He may be reached at

Working together for global trade strategies and resources
“Global trade is a key economic segment for our region,” remarked EDC Chief Operating Officer Vickie Clark. “Innovative growth in this market arena will expand the prosperity of our region.” The EDC coordinates a Global Trade Strategy Group that includes volunteers with international experience from Caterpillar, The Heartland Partnership and Bradley’s trade centers. The EDC will be adding additional members to this group to enable concentration on key initiatives, including: examining the potential for an international distribution center, creating a strategy to increase FTZ activity, and defining steps to expand, recruit and retain businesses in international markets. If you would like to assist in global trade strategies for our region, contact Vickie Clark at

One of the purposes of the Global Trade Strategy Group is to promote existing services that are available for global trade. Part of the Turner Center for Entrepreneurship, the trade centers at Bradley University offer counseling and training to Illinois companies seeking to expand exports. They can be reached at (309) 677-3075 or

By combining the extensive resources available through Bradley University with the network of business leaders through the EDC and Heartland Partnership, the opportunities of today’s rapid-paced global marketplace can be translated into economic growth for our region. iBi