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Remarks at University of Chicago, National Export Initiative Event, Chicago, Illinois


Monday, April 5, 2010


(202) 482-4883

Secretary of Commerce Gary Locke
Remarks at University of Chicago, National Export Initiative Event
Chicago, Illinois

It’s great to be here in Chicago with Senator Durbin and my colleagues from Washington to talk about something that's going to be a terrific driver of job creation in Illinois.

The President’s National Export Initiative calls for doubling American exports over the next five years, supporting two million jobs.

This initiative was designed with one overriding goal: to get people back to work in jobs that provide security, dignity and sense of hope for the future.

Under the NEI, there is going to be more credit available for exporters, a sharper focus on knocking down the barriers that prevent U.S. companies from getting access to foreign markets, and more government trade promotion.

The Commerce Department is going to be particularly involved with the trade promotion aspect of the NEI.

Our International Trade Administration has a global network of trade specialists posted in 109 U.S. cities and at 128 U.S. embassies and consulates in 77 countries, and we’re gearing up to help more American companies enter the global marketplace.

At home, these specialists help educate US companies about opportunities overseas. And overseas, they serve as on the ground advocates, helping companies navigate local rules and regulations.

Some of you may have had the privilege of working with senior trade specialist Thelma Young before her recent retirement.

We’re sorry to lose a talented public servant like Thelma, but we’re fortunate to have very deep bench of talent in our Commercial Service, people like Vicki Tolefree (toll free) who has been assisting exporters for three decades.

Last year, our Commercial Service helped facilitate more than 12,000 export successes for companies small and large, resulting in billions of dollars in U.S. export sales and supporting jobs across the country.

Here in Illinois, we’ve worked with companies such as

  • Elastec/American Marine located in Carmi, Illinois, a manufacturer of oil-spill recovery and environmental treatment equipment. The Commercial Service’s Peoria office, working with U.S. Customs, helped the company determined which documents and permits were necessary for exporting a vacuum trailer to Australia. As a result, the company successfully completed the $48,000 sale.
  • ProStuff/ProGate, a small Rockford manufacturer of starting gates for the BMX bike racing industry, had a contract to provide starting gates for the Beijing Olympics, but needed assistance on exporting the product to China. With China-specific advice, the $49,000 sale was completed.

And the company credits the Commercial Service with helping it grow its export sales from zero dollars in 2006 to $500,000 in August of 2008.

These efforts are only going to accelerate in the months ahead.

ITA is launching a 12-month program focused on activities that will have the most immediate impact on job creation including:

  • Identifying new markets and emerging industries for existing and aspiring U.S. exporters;
  • Increasing the number of foreign buyers to U.S. trade shows; and
  • Getting more clean energy companies involved in promising new markets.

We’re also going to be putting a special focus on increasing the number of small and medium-sized businesses exporting to more than one market by 50 percent over the next five years.

And under the President’s 2011 budget, ITA has been given a 20% increase that among other things, will allow us to higher over 300 trade specialists, most of them in foreign countries, to help find customers for US businesses.

And it couldn't be easier for companies to take advantage of all this.

If you’re an American firm and you want to sell your goods or services abroad, I encourage you to call 1-800-USA-TRADE or visit

We'll keep searching for partners and customers for you until you find the right fit. Think of it as match-making for exporters.

We look forward to working with you.