Laura Ortaga Executive Director, International Business Council

LAURA ORTEGA

Executive Director, International Business Council  | lortega@ilchamber.org

The Illinois Chamber launched the International Business Council in May 2013 to take a leadership role in international trade policy and increase global trading opportunities for Illinois businesses. This is critical to the future economic health of our state as 80% of the world’s purchasing power and 95% of its customers are outside our borders. Illinois businesses know that the path to economic growth is tapping into those markets and establishing new relationships. The Illinois Chamber’s International Business Council (IBC) is central to helping meet these objectives.

The IBC focuses on building strategic partnerships to maximize the resources of the Illinois Chamber’s members to expand in foreign markets and foster trade and investment in Illinois. The Council’s outreach includes a high worth global network of diplomatic missions, foreign government agencies and business organizations. It also works with our local, state and federal government on trade policies that best serve Illinois concentrating on issues of competition, market access, export facilitation, Foreign Trade Agreements (FTAs) and Foreign Direct Investment.

As one of the most diverse and globalized economies in the U.S., highly dependent on two-way trade and investment, Illinois is poised to benefit greatly from expanding in foreign markets. Many Illinois businesses are already active global traders, but face an increasingly competitive world. Future success requires greater awareness of global challenges and unfair regulations, and strong U.S. economic engagement and leadership.

Illinois is the largest exporter in the Midwest and the fifth largest in the country with nearly $60B of goods and $28B of services exported in 2016 and international trade supporting more than 1.7M jobs. Likewise, Illinois is well positioned for foreign investors to establish their enterprise in the third largest American market with access to extensive transportation networks, a world-class and multi-cultural metropolis and easy reach of the industrial heartland and agricultural center of the nation.

IBC services are:

  • Demand-based collaboration: IBC help companies expand their customer base into international markets by providing direct access to resources, business leads and connections with foreign offices and business organizations.

  • Foreign Trade Missions Assistance: IBC host meetings with visiting dignitaries and commercial delegates to find and connect with Illinois based suppliers of goods and services.

  • Soft-Landing: IBC facilitates international firms’ establishment and growth in Illinois through advocacy and partnership building with strategic sectors and stakeholders to provide easy conduit for engagement, guidance and exposure.

  • Global Engagement: IBC serves as a forum for senior U.S. officials, foreign dignitaries and member companies to share, promote and better understand International trade policy and market priorities in the region. IBC hosts and co-hosts meetings, conferences and informational sessions that break down siloes and exposes Illinois businesses to research about potential markets to consider exports and trade.