Governor Pat Quinn is in Canada today on an economic development visit where he is promoting Illinois' trade and business opportunities, as well as tourism and life sciences industries. This is the first trade-oriented visit by an Illinois governor to Canada in over a decade and builds upon Governor Quinn's commitment to strengthening relationships with Illinois' key trading partners.
"Illinois has always been a global business leader, and through our aggressive efforts to increase exports, attract international visitors and develop innovative new partnerships in growing and emerging fields," Governor Quinn said. "This visit is an opportunity for us to further promote Illinois on a global stage, work toward our goal of doubling Illinois exports by 2014 and create economic opportunities for the future."
Governor Quinn opened the Canadian Restaurant and Foodservices Association (CRFA) trade show, the leading foodservices and hospitality event in Canada. The Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity (DCEO) and the Illinois Department of Agriculture administered federal funding and technical support to 10 Illinois companies with exhibits at the show. The funding comes from a $1.26 million State Trade Export & Promotion (STEP) grant through the U.S. Small Business Administration. The show will help those companies increase their exports and global reach. A list of the 10 Illinois exhibitors is attached.
Canada is Illinois' largest export market, receiving more than $19.17 billion of Illinois exports in 2011, a 28 percent increase over 2010. Illinois exported more than $1.18 billion in agricultural, food and related products to Canada in 2011. Canada is Illinois'' fourth largest market for foreign direct investment and Illinois' top market for international visitors. More than 150 Canadian firms are located in Illinois that employ nearly 36,837 Illinois residents.
Governor Quinn also met with key members of the life sciences and bio-energy communities at a meeting hosted by MaRS (medical and related sciences) Innovation and MaRS Discovery District at the MaRS Center. The Governor discussed opportunities for collaboration in emerging biotech fields and highlighted the importance of Canadian participation in the BIO International Conventions that Chicago will host in 2013 and 2016. More than 900 Canadian biotech professionals attended BIO 2010 in Chicago - the largest delegation of any of the 61 countries attending the convention.
Illinois ranks first in the Midwest and eighth nationally in terms of high-tech jobs, according to Tech America's Cyberstates 2011 Report. After setting records for attendance in 2006 and 2010, Illinois will again host the BIO International Convention in 2013 and 2016. The success of BIO 2010, along with other key initiatives recently implemented in Illinois - the Illinois Angel Investment Tax Credit, Illinois R&D Tax Credit extension, and Illinois Innovation Council - earned Governor Quinn the title of 2011 BIO "Governor of the Year."
While in Canada, Governor Quinn continued his efforts to increase tourism by promoting Illinois as a top destination for business and leisure travel during the "Visit Illinois" tourism luncheon held in Toronto. Governor Quinn was joined by Illinois Office of Tourism Deputy Director Jan Kostner to highlight the state's attractions, travel destinations and access to transportation to encourage more Canadian business and leisure travel to Illinois and Chicago. More than 100 Canadian travel executives, tour operators and travel writers attended the luncheon, along with members of the Executive Committee of the Discover America Canada Committee, U.S. Ambassador David Jacobson, and U.S. Consul General Kevin Johnson.
Illinois welcomed more than 1.1 million international visitors in 2010, maintaining Illinois' rank as the 7th most popular U.S. state for international visitors. In 2010, Canada was Illinois' top market for international visitors followed by the United Kingdom, Mexico, Germany and Japan. Canadians made 452,000 visits to Illinois last year, which contributed $227 million to the state's economy.
More information about Illinois trade and business opportunities can be found on the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity's website at www.illinoisbiz.biz.