Metro Chicago Exports Grant Program Available to Local Companies

Grants Help Small and Medium-Sized Companies Navigate Opportunities for Exporting

Photo Credit: David Harmantas, Flickr

Photo Credit: David Harmantas, Flickr

Metro Chicago Exports recently announced the launch of its 2016 grant program, with the support of JP Morgan Chase & Co. This is the second year that the single-round grant program will award grants of up to $5,000 to help small and medium-sized companies in Chicago and Northeastern Illinois maximize their export potential and engage in international markets.

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

“Exporting enables companies to reach new customers, but the process of selling to foreign markets can be difficult to navigate,” said Metro Chicago Exports Managing Director Thomas Hulseman. “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 home.”

The 2016 grant program builds on the success of last year’s program 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 and Mount Prospect-based Pinch Provisions.

“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, Pinch Provisions.  “Exporting has allowed Pinch Provisions to expand its reach as the market leader beyond the United States, 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, Chief Executive Officer, Thank God I’m Natural.  “Exporting has helped us to retain and create jobs, and also has generated incremental revenues of at least $100K 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 (comprised of Cook, DuPage, Kane, Kendall, Lake, McHenry and Will counties), boosting revenue and driving regional growth. Metro Chicago Exports is a 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 sustainable economic growth.

The 2016 Metro Chicago Export grant program is funded through a $250,000 contribution from JPMorgan Chase & Co. This year’s contribution will also enable a $20,000 investment to help defray the costs for companies that participate in Illinois’ ExportTech program.

Applications for the 2016 grant program will be accepted through May 27, 2016, with grant award notifications commencing by July 11, 2016. The application process involves two steps: an initial online client assessment and a formal review of export plans, capabilities and potential. During the client assessment, companies may be referred to export service providers for help with plans.

Additional details and eligibility requirements are available at