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Metro Chicago Exports Offers Assistance Through Grant Program To Local Companies Looking To Export

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

Metro Chicago Exports recently announced the launch of the 2016 Grant Program, presented by JP Morgan Chase & Co. The single-round Grant Program 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. Information about the pitch fest will be shared closer to its launch.

“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 to the region.”

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 It’s 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), thereby increasing revenue and driving regional growth. 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. This year’s contribution will also enable a $20,000 total investment to help defray the costs for companies that participate in Illinois’ executive ExportTech program.

Applications for the 2016 Grant Program will be accepted through May 27, 2016, with grant award notifications commencing on or around July 11, 21016. The application process involves two steps — an initial online Client Assessment and a formal review of export plans, capabilities and potential. Companies that pass the Client Assessment phase will be invited to submit more comprehensive information about their plans to go global as part of the Grant Application process. If potential barriers to maximizing export potential are identified during the Client Assessment, companies may be referred to export service providers to assist them in formulating international export plans.

Additional details and eligibility requirements pertaining to the 2016 Metro Chicago Exports Grant Program are available at

About Metro Chicago Exports

Metro Chicago Exports is an unprecedented collaboration between the seven counties in Northeastern Illinois (Cook, DuPage, Kane, Kendall, Lake, McHenry and Will) and the City of Chicago to increase exports from small and medium-sized companies and to support regional job growth. By providing resources, information and grant funding, Metro Chicago Exports serves as a conduit to opportunities in the global marketplace and empowers companies to maximize their exporting potential. For more information, please visit:

About Pinch Provisions

Pinch Provisions® is the world’s leading purveyor of premium emergency essentials, combining the sensibility of a fashion brand with the functionality of a general store. Its coveted personal care kits (including the Minimergency®, Shemergency®, and Hemergency®, among others) are sold in over 3,000 stores worldwide. Women- and family-owned and operated, the company’s office and manufacturing facility is located just outside of Chicago in Elk Grove Village, Illinois.

About Thank God It’s Natural

Thank God It’s Natural (tgin) is a Chicago based manufacturer of natural products for the hair and body. From our Honey Miracle Hair Mask to our African shea butter, each product is made in small batches using the finest natural and organic ingredients for maximum freshness. You can now find tgin products locally at Mariano’s and Whole Foods, and nationwide at Target stores.

Source: Metro Chicago Exports