PEORIA, Ill.--The State of Illinois is helping local business owners stay ahead of the competition.
The Department of Commerce & Economic Opportunity is hosting free seminars for any small or medium-sized business that wants to learn about expanding exports outside the country.
Wednesday's seminar in at the Peoria NEXT Innovation Center informed area companies about the State Trade & Export Promotion, or STEP grant program.
It offers nearly $1.3 million to Illinois businesses to help them find new markets overseas.
James Foley, the director of Bradley University's Turner Center for Entrepreneurship and Illinois SBDC International Trade Center, says global exports create more economic stability.
"Exports create jobs and retain jobs, and so the state has an initiative to help expand our exports, which also just leads to stronger companies," said Foley. "It also means that you diversify, and the companies that are doing the best right now through this recession are the companies that have engaged internationally."
Foley says only a minority of Central Illinois businesses have expanded their exports worldwide.
To register for a seminar, visit www.exports.illinois.gov.