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  April 5th, 2016 | Written by

Metro Chicago Exports Offers Grant Program to Local Exporters

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  • Metro Chicago Exports program will award grants to help SMEs in Northeastern Illinois maximize exports.
  • Pinch Provisions: Metro Chicago Exports grant enabled us to fund expert consulting on exporting to Europe and Australia.
  • Thank God It’s Natural: Last year’s Metro Chicago Exports grant enabled us to navigate entry into European markets.

Metro Chicago Exports announced yesterday the launch of its 2016 grant program.

The program, presented by JP Morgan Chase & Co., will award grants up to $5,000 to help small and medium-sized companies in Chicago and Northeastern Illinois maximize their export potential and engage with customers in international markets.

In fall 2016, Metro Chicago Exports will host a pitch fest during which both 2015 and 2016 grant recipients will be eligible to submit a pitch for additional funding totaling $30,000.

Metro Chicago Exports is a collaboration among the seven counties in Northeastern Illinois and the City of Chicago to increase exports from small and medium-sized companies and to support regional job growth.

“Exporting enables companies to reach new customers, but the process of selling to foreign markets can be difficult to navigate,” said Thomas Hulseman, managing director of Metro Chicago Exports. “Through our grant program, we help companies engage in the global market by offsetting the costs associated with exporting, whether that is market research, international compliance costs, or other vital investments. As grant recipients grow their bottom lines through exporting, they ultimately bolster their local operations and bring economic benefits back to the region.”

The 2016 program builds on last year’s success which provided 54 local companies with grants for reimbursing costs associated with exporting, including executive training, trade show participation, and international certifications. Two of the companies that received grants last year were Chicago-based Thank God I’m Natural, a manufacturer of natural products for the hair and body, and Mount Prospect-based Pinch Provisions, a purveyor of personal care kits.

“A grant from Metro Chicago Exports enabled us to fund expert consulting on exporting medical devices, cosmetics, and general products to Europe and Australia,” said Jamie Kaplan, chief financial officer and senior vice president of Pinch Provisions. “Exporting has allowed Pinch Provisions to expand its reach, diversify its customer base, and connect with international fans.”

“Last year’s grant enabled us to better navigate entry into European markets,” said Chris-Tia Donaldson, CEO of Thank God It’s Natural. “Exporting has helped us to retain and create jobs, and also has generated incremental revenues of at least one-hundred thousand dollars in sales. We look forward to continuing to address the global demand for innovative products for textured hair.”

Metro Chicago Exports’ mission is to increase exporting by small and medium-sized companies in the seven-county region: Cook, DuPage, Kane, Kendall, Lake, McHenry and Will. Metro Chicago Exports is also part of the Global Cities Initiative, a joint project of the Brookings Institution and JPMorgan Chase that aims to catalyze a shift in economic development priorities and practices resulting in more globally connected metropolitan areas and more sustainable economic growth.

The 2016 Metro Chicago Export Grant Program is funded through a $250,000 contribution from JPMorgan Chase & Co.

Applications for the 2016 grant program will be accepted through May 27, 2016, with grant award notifications commencing on or around July 11, 2016.  Details are available at