Trade reps from eight nations will visit
MORRISON – An international trade group representing several countries will visit the area to seek opportunities with its businesses.
The Whiteside County Economic Development department has set up the tour for representatives of Bulgaria, Ecuador, Greece, Hong Kong, Lithuania, Philippines, South Africa and Spain.
The trade group will be at a luncheon and business forum from noon to 2 p.m. Oct. 10 at Sauk Valley Community College, 173 state Route 2 in Dixon. The event is open to all businesses in the region that export products and have the capabilities to start sending goods abroad.
The foreign dignitaries are part of the Chicago International Trade Commissioner’s Association. They will tour two local manufacturing plants, take in the Art in the Park exhibit at RB&W Park in Rock Falls, and then head to the college for the luncheon and forum.
In addition to business leaders, the delegation will have an opportunity to meet the area’s elected officials and other community leaders.
“The trade group will have a chance to see the region up close, learn about the products and services produced here, and present opportunities for mutually beneficial trade,” Gary Camarano, Whiteside County economic development director, said in a news release.
Camarano likened the event’s format to speed dating, where potential dating partners meet to determine their compatibility.
“The representatives will have about 8 minutes to give a brief overview of their country and business opportunities available there, followed by a question-and-answer and networking session,” Camarano said.
It’s then up to the business leaders to follow up and determine whether they want to pursue the trade opportunities.
Several regional companies have foreign trade partners, including Sterling-based Wahl Clipper, which received the Illinois Governor’s Exporter of the Year award this year. Shank’s Veterinary Equipment in Milledgeville won a national exporting award in 2016. Astec Mobile Screens and Fulton’s Agri-King also export abroad.
The region also has its share of foreign-owned companies, including Menk USA, UPM Raflatac and Nestle.
The event continues the college’s collaboration with economic development leaders and regional manufacturers. Sauk has stepped up its workforce development partnerships with programs like the Multicraft Extended Internship Program and the revival of its agriculture program, which had left the campus in the mid-1990s.
“Our workforce development programs are helping our local businesses with qualified employees that can help them compete in today’s highly competitive markets,” David Hellmich, Sauk President David Hellmich said in the release. “In a way, Sauk Valley Community College is contributing to their success in competing in international markets by supporting a pipeline of talented employees.”
Camarano said the trade delegation is eager to visit Northwest Illinois because the trip could be a starting point for members of the Chicago International Trade Commissioner’s Association to build strong commercial relationships with the area.
Whiteside County is one of more than 600 members that have access to the nonprofit organization’s extensive international business network.