Welcome to the State of Illinois

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"Illinois has a strong track record of winning international investments from both within the USA and from around the world. It is the most successful state in the Midwest in attracting Foreign Direct Investment and the 4th most successful in the nation. We have already attracted 1,596 foreign firms based in 5,320 locations and employing 288,700 Illinois residents directly.
Illinois has the fifth largest state economy in the US, with a Gross State Product of $782.02 (2019). It is also a very diverse economy with billion-dollar industries including information technology and communications, life sciences, advanced manufacturing, plastics, chemicals, renewable energy, aerospace, agriculture and food production, warehouse and distribution, automotive, and financial services.
Chicago, Illinois's largest city, is an economic powerhouse with a with a GDP of $611.59 billion and a population of 9.3 million in the metropolitan area. Centrally located, Chicago provides nonstop flights to more than 200 cities worldwide and serves as a hub for all six major North American railroads and six major U.S. Interstates.
Encouraging and supporting European businesses to locate within our State is a key priority for us. My office, based in Brussels, with its dedicated and multilingual staff, have over 40 years experience in assisting European companies interested in the USA market. You will find our services, explained below in greater detail, are tailor-made to address your companies needs.
We look forward to receiving your enquiry"

Sharon L. Stead
Managing Director


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Why Invest in Illinois

Illinois is aware of the contribution foreign owned firms make to its economy, and it greatly welcomes foreign companies into the state. Here are the top 10 reasons why Illinois offers your business a premier location within the United States and why so many companies have chosen Illinois for their U.S. operation.

  1. Strategically positioned for access to markets and customers
  2. Unparalleled infrastructure and global connectivity
  3. Highly Educated and productive workforce
  4. World renowned universities and third level colleges
  5. An economic powerhouse
  6. International center for American and European global companies
  7. Warehousing and distribution center of the U.S.
  8. Large resources of industrial land, buildings and R & D Parks
  9. Competitive financial incentives for foreign investors
  10. A great place live and work 

1) Strategically positioned for access to Markets and Customers

Sitting, quite literally, at the heart of the nation, Illinois boasts an infrastructural network that is unparalleled in the United States. From highways to airports, railways, ports and navigable waterways, Illinois is the national center for your business connectivity


2) Unparalleled Infrastructure and Global Connectivity

Illinois Air Transport System

The central location of Illinois makes it a natural hub for air travel. Its main airport Chicago O'Hare International Airport is the second busiest in the USA. United Airlines has their largest US hub at O' Hare and American Airlines has their second largest. With over 1.5 million tons of cargo and approximately 67 million travellers passing through each year, and an arrival or departure every minute, it's obvious that travellers have maximum scheduling flexibility in Illinois. Daily non-stop flights are available to 150 national destinations and 50 international destinations. For European travellers daily direct flights are available to cities including London, Manchester, Dublin, Paris, Duesseldorf, Frankfurt, Munich, Brussels, Amsterdam, Rome, Milan, Madrid, Copenhagen, Stockholm and Zurich.

A second airport, Chicago Midway International Airport, situated about 10 miles from the Chicago loop operates as a major commuter hub for low cost airline Southwest Airlines.

Illinois Interstate Highways

Illinois lies at the heart of the nation's interstate high-way system. Three coast-to-coast interstates (I-70, I-80, and I-90) pass through Illinois. These are joined by major north-south interstates, including I-39, I-55, and I-57; major east-west interstates that include I-24, I-64, and I-74; as well as I-72, I-94, I-88 and I-155. In all, Illinois has 2,169 miles of interstate highway making it the third highest ranking in the USA.

Illinois also benefits from major east/west and north/south interchanges which are located in more than a dozen communities around the state. Augmenting the interstates are over 16,000 miles of state highways, making the interstate routes accessible from every region of Illinois. It's no wonder that Illinois is home to more than 7,200 trucking establishments and over 11,000 public warehousing facilities.

Illinois Railways

Illinois is the centre of the nation's rail network. Chicago is the largest rail gateway in the USA and East St Louis is the second largest. All major railroads operate from Illinois and provide direct access to all points in the U.S., Canada and Mexico. Rail shipments can reach all mid-western markets within one day and nearly all other destinations in the United States in 4 days or less. In all, 52 rail-roads are able to provide service from Illinois to every part of the United States.

The recent addition of Union Pacific's new Global III Intermodal Facility in Rochelle is the industry's finest state-of-the-art terminal. This new facility offers customers multiple business advantages, including direct interstate highway routes with easy access to major east-west and north-south markets, the efficient interchange of shipments to and from rail connections, and expedited operations of over 25 trains and 3,000 containers daily.

Illinois is currently investing substantially in its rail infrastructure. Main projects include several infrastructure upgrades in the Chicago metropolitan area and the delivery of a fast train service between Chicago and St Louis.

Waterways and Ports

Using both the Mississippi River and the St Lawrence Seaway of the Great Lakes, Illinois has water access to the Atlantic Ocean and the Gulf of Mexico. These waterways, coupled with strategically placed port districts, give businesses access to markets and opportunities for low cost warehousing.

In total, Illinois has 1,118 miles of navigable waterways. The main ports are the Port of Chicago, and Port of America.

The Port of Chicago consists of several major port facilities within the city of Chicago, and is operated by the Illinois International Port District. Facilities include the Iroquois Landing Lakefront Terminal: at the mouth of the Calumet River, which has 100 acres of warehouses and facilities on Lake Michigan, and Lake Calumet terminal, 6 miles inland from Lake Michigan.

The Illinois International Port district also operates a Foreign Trade Zone,(Zone 22) which extends 60 miles from Chicago's city limits, and provides low cost production and warehousing for imported and export-bound products.

The Port of America offers direct access to the U.S marketplace via the port of New Orleans. It also operates a foreign Trade Zone (Zone 31).

IT Infrastructure and Data Transport

Illinois is a leader in telecommunications technology. The state is the birthplace and testing ground for many telecommunications systems; in fact, the first electronic switching system in the United States was introduced in 1960 in Illinois as was the first commercial installation of an Integrated Services Digital Net-work (ISDN) in 1986. Since then, Illinois has continued to lead the way in fibre optics, digital switching and cellular service.

Today, virtually the entire state has digital switching. Digital switching allows information to travel as digital signals between the originating and receiving exchanges, thus providing high quality, high speed, secure voice, data and image communications at lower operating costs, as well as making services such as digital Centrex and switched video conferencing possible. Hundreds of thousands of miles of fibre optic cable have already been installed. Furthermore, all of the major inter-exchange carriers have points of presence in the state, which ensures that businesses from rural communities as well as metropolitan areas can access their services. Yet even with these state-of-the-art services, Illinois offers some of the lowest phone rates in the nation -- a point not lost on businesses looking at the bottom line. Illinois has the transportation and telecommunication infrastructure to help businesses continue to grow and prosper in the future.

3) Highly educated and productive workforce

Illinois has an estimated workforce of 6.6 million, moreover this is one of the largest and most diverse workforces in the country. Nearly one-half of the workforce are professionals, skilled technicians, craftspeople or machine operators. The Chicago metropolitan area is home to more than 4 million of the state's workers. The top five occupations in the area are office and administrative support, sales, service workers, management and professional workers.

  • 17.1 % of the state's workforce are employed in goods-producing industries
  • Almost 12% of workers are employed in manufacturing
  • Illinois boasts a higher concentration of computer programmers than Silicon Valley
  • Illinois workers are known for their productivity. Worker productivity exceeds the U.S. average by $0.35 per hour
  • Illinois workers are well educated – 56.2 percent have gained education beyond high school.
  • 192 Higher Education Institutions Statewide
  • University of Illinois Graduates More Engineers each year than MIT, Stanford, and Cal Tech Combined
  • #1 Marketing Graduate Program - Kellogg School of Management
  • 2 Top 20 Universities in U.S. - University of Chicago & Northwestern University
  • Top 5 Computer Science/Engineering at University of Illinois - U.S. News

4) World renowned Universities and Third Level Colleges

Illinois has 9 public universities on 12 campuses, which include 700 baccalaureate degree programs, 550 masters degree programs, nearly 200 doctoral programs, and professional degrees in medicine, veterinary medicine, dentistry, and law. It is ranked 5th in the nation in the number of institutions of higher education. Many Illinois institutions have world-class reputations. U.S. News and World Report's 2008 rankings of National Universities - Doctoral (schools with a wide range of undergraduate and graduate programs that often emphasize research) included three Illinois universities among the top 40: the University of Chicago (9th) Northwestern (14th), and the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (38th). Business Week 2006 assessment of M.B.A. programs ranked University of Chicago Graduate School of Business first and the nearby Kellogg School of Business at Northwestern was ranked 3rd. In addition, the University of Illinois in Champaign-Urbana is ranked fifth nationally by U.S. News & World Report for its school of engineering.

Community Colleges serving the needs of Business and Industry

The Business and industry sector is supported by 48 community colleges, which provide instruction and workforce preparation in more than 240 occupational specialties. Through these colleges customized training is provided to approximately 3,400 companies, serving approximately 130,000 employees each year. As a guarantee of quality, 37 Community Colleges offer "educational guarantees", which ensure that program graduates will have the necessary skills to perform the work. If not, the college will provide re-training at no cost.

NB More than 90% of community college students remain in Illinois to work.

International Schools

5) An Economic Powerhouse

Illinois has a diverse and vibrant business environment. Gross State product was $742 billion (2014)making it the fifth largest in the United States. The economy is strong in manufacturing and services. Key manufacturing industries include industrial machinery, plastics, chemicals, food and food processing, computer and electronics and transportation equipment. Strong services sectors include Financial Services, technology, warehousing and distribution.

6) International Center for American and European Global Companies

The following Fortune 500 Companies are located in Illinois:

  • Boeing
  • Archer Daniels Midland (ADM)
  • Caterpillar
  • Abbot Labs
  • Sara Lee
  • John Deere & Co.
  • Illinois Tool Works
  • Baxter International
  • Navistar International
  • Kraft
  • McDonalds
  • Walgreens Boots Alliance
  • State Farm Insurance
  • Sears Holdings
Country Examples of large firms Examples of Firms assisted by State of Illinois European Office
United Kingdom BP Dyson USA Inc
  Unilever Gripple USA Inc
  British Airways Renishaw Inc
Germany BMW Richard Wolfe USA Inc
  Siemens Schliefering Inc
  Robert Bosch FKW Inc
  Vetter GmbH Frensenius Kabi
France Air France Roquette Frere
  Aventis GL Trade
  Air Liquide LaFarge
Italy Barilla Rana Pastificio SpA
Denmark Bang and Olefsun Danfoss
Sweden  SKF Nefab
Spain Cintra Mecalux
Belgium Solvay Xeikon


International Financial Services

Illinois is a leader in the financial industry and Chicago is the largest Financial Centre in the US outside New York. The Chicago Board of Trade and the Chicago Mercantile Exchange are world leaders in the "Futures" markets. Over thirty International Banks have established branches or representative offices in Chicago.

International Organisations

Chicago has a significant number of international consulates, and trade & investment offices. In fact, with 83 Consulates & Consuls General, the city is one of the fastest-growing consular hubs in the nation. There are more than 90 foreign-based trade and investment organizations and over 40 international/ethnic Chambers of Commerce in addition to the Consulates.

International Center for Trade Shows

McCormick Place is the largest convention center in the United States, and welcomes more than 3 million visitors annually. The facility is comprised of four state-of-the-art buildings with a combined total of 2.7 million square feet (250,830 meters2) of floor space. Also housed within the complex are the Arie Crown Theater and the Hyatt-McCormick Place Hotel. Located only minutes from downtown Chicago, McCormick Place hosts numerous trade shows and exhibitions every year. For more information please visit:


Only five minutes away from O'Hare International Airport and close to downtown Chicago, another option for large events is Rosemont, Illinois. Rosemont boasts the 840,000 sq ft (78,000 m²) Donald E. Stephens Convention Center along with an adjacent conference center and grand ball room. Also nearby are hotels run by nearly ever major operator with a presence in the US (including Global Hyatt Corporation, Hilton Hotels Corporation, Marriott International, Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide, Accor, and Intercontinental Hotels Group, among others).

For More Information See: www.rosemont.com/donald_e_stephens_convention_center.php

7) Warehousing and Distribution Center of the U.S.

The superb transport infrastructure means that Illinois and especially Chicago has become the warehousing and distribution center of the USA. 300 of the Fortune 500 companies have their regional or national distribution centers in Illinois.

In Illinois you will find quality warehouse space and distribution companies to help you move your product cheaply and quickly. With over 11,973 public warehousing facilities, readily available sites or buildings, and a wide array of terminals, freight forwarders and transportation companies, Illinois offers businesses the ability to quickly meet their long- or short-range distribution needs.

8) Large Resource of Industrial Land, Buildings and R & D Parks

There are nearly 30,000 acres of available industrial and office parks located through-out the Chicago area.


As one of the hottest technology clusters in the world, Illinois and its eight Technology Parks give you the ultimate tools to cultivate high-tech development. A robust economy, an amazing blend of quality of life and business infrastructure offerings; An extensive transportation network; An unparalleled commitment to collaboration. And the most advanced technological and diverse academic resources the U.S. has to offer.


9) Competitive Financial Incentives for Foreign Investors

Illinois is aware of the contribution foreign owned firms make to its economy, and it welcomes foreign companies to the state. It provides favorable financial incentives to investors depending on project type and a dedicated office in Europe to advise on eligibility. Incentive programs include:

  • Income tax credits
  • Property and Sales tax reductions
  • Job training Incentives

10) A great place to live and work

From the big-city excitement of Chicago to the peaceful Amish communities of Central Illinois, to the majestic Shawnee National Forest in Southern Illinois, Illinois is a reflection of America.



Chicago is one of the world's largest and most diverse cities. The "city of big shoulders" offers something for everyone, from blues to baseball, art to architecture. Chicago is famous for its unique deep dish pizza, hot dogs and ethnic foods, as well as its own legendary jazz and blues sound. But in addition to its theaters, comedy clubs, world-class museums and sports, Chicago also is a major player in business. Chicago is home to the World Trade Center Chicago and the Chicago Board of Trade, the Mercantile Exchange, the Board of Options Exchange and the Chicago Stock Market. Chicago offers world-class shopping including Macy's, Bloomingdale's, Tiffany's, Saks Fifth Avenue, American Girl Place and others.

Chicago is a convention mecca, annually hosting many of the nation's largest conferences and trade shows. The city features the famed Art Institute of Chicago, Adler Planetarium, Field Museum of Natural History, the Museum of Science and Industry, and the John G. Shedd Aquarium. Music lovers can enjoy the Chicago Blues Festival, the Grant Park Music Festival, Jazz Fest, Gospel Fest and Country Music Fest. The Chicago Symphony Orchestra, Lyric Opera and Ravinia Festival draw thousands of visitors each season. Theater enthusiasts can choose from the new theater district, including the world-renowned Second City, Steppenwolf and the Goodman.

Those who enjoy sports enjoy Chicago. From the sentimental favorite Chicago Cubs and historic Wrigley Field, to the 2005 Champion White Sox; the Chicago Bulls return to national prominence, the Blackhawks winning the Stanley Cup in 2010, the Chicago Bears, Sportsmen's Park, Hawthorne, Maywood, and the Chicagoland Speedway, Chicago offers the best in professional sports and an enthusiastic and well-versed community of fans.

Sightseers can enjoy 29 miles of Lake Michigan shoreline, breathtaking architecture that includes the Willis Tower (formerly Sears Tower), Frank Lloyd Wright's home and studio, Brookfield Zoo, riverboat gaming establishments, and more than 5,000 restaurants and first-class hotels to make any stay in the Chicago area a memorable one.


Northern Illinois

A short drive from Chicago brings visitors to scenic bluffs and historic towns such as Galena, where Victorian architecture includes the post-Civil War home of President Ulysses S. Grant. Starved Rock State Park in Utica offers amazing vistas of canyons, water-falls, plants and animals. The Illinois Railway Muse-um at Union beckons to railroad buffs, while business booms in thriving metropolitan centers such as Rockford. Northern Illinois University in DeKalb is one of the state's premier educational institutions.

Western Illinois

The rolling river country of Western Illinois hosts one of the strongest cultural mixes in the state. The French were the first Europeans to settle in Western Illinois. Quincy was founded by Germans, Moline by settlers from Belgium, and Galesburg was founded by Swedes. Peoria has thrived under the flags of France, Spain and England.

Today, visitors to the area can retrace the steps of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (Mormons) founder Joseph Smith in Nauvoo, visit the re-stored utopia at Bishop Hill and explore the Great River Road. Global business leaders Caterpillar Inc. and Deere & Company are headquartered here. Ed-ward Lee Masters and Carl Sandberg drew inspiration from their Western Illinois roots. Respected colleges and universities, including Western Illinois Universi-ty, Bradley University, Quincy University, Augustana College and Knox College, graduate tomorrow's leaders.

Central Illinois

Lincoln's Tomb

Truly the "Land of Lincoln," Central Illinois offers a wealth of historic sites, including Lincoln's Tomb, the Old State Capitol where he delivered the landmark "House Divided" speech, his law office, the only home he ever owned, and the re-stored New Salem community where he grew to manhood. Fur-thermore, the spectacular Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum opened in 2005. This is the only Presidential Museum in the state and the largest in existence.

Central Illinois is home to Springfield, the state capital; as well as Champaign-Urbana, home to the world-class University of Illinois; and Decatur, the "soybean capital of the world." The Amish communities of Arthur and Arcola mingle the past with the present. Several prestigious private colleges, plus Eastern Illinois University and Illinois State University, provide educational opportunities to a new generation of students.

Southwest Illinois

Walk in the footsteps of famed explorers Meriwether Lewis and William Clark along the east bank of the Mississippi River in Hartford, where the Corps of Discovery launched its legendary expedition. The Interpretive Center tells the story of Camp River Dubois, the original encampment and training grounds of Lewis and Clark, and includes a full scale replica of the team's keel boat. Southwest Illinois is also home to Cahokia Mounds. This U.N. World Heritage Site shelters the remains of an ancient city where a Mississippian Indian culture once flourished from 700 to 1400 A.D. before mysteriously disappearing. Sixty-eight of the original 120 earthen mounds have been preserved on the 4,000-acre site. Stop at the interpretive center before tackling the 100-foot-tall Monks Mound, which is the largest pre-historic earthen mound in the New World.

With more than 40 miles of pristine shoreline, the Middle Mississippi River Valley is a picturesque spot in which to view bald eagles. Beginning in December, more than 2,000 eagles migrate to the region, returning to their winter home along the bluffs of the Great river.

Southern Illinois

Unlike any other part of the state, Southern Illinois blends a colorful history with a vast array of outdoor recreational opportunities. The foothills of the Ozarks are here, as well as the Shawnee National Forest. Sparkling lakes and streams offer some of the best fishing and hunting in the Midwest. Fort Massac, provides opportunities for outdoor family fun. Southern Illinois University is respected for its excellent educational, agricultural and forest-related research facilities.

What We Can Do To Help You


About Our Services

The State of Illinois West European Office is one of nine overseas offices operated by the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity. The office, situated in Brussels has been set up since 1968, and is the second oldest office of an American state with representation in Europe.

We provides confidential advice and free services to European Firms seeking to invest in Illinois (by way of a sales office, warehouse /distribution or a manufacturing plant). We are there to assist you from the beginning of your project until its completion. We look forward to assisting you expand your business in the USA.

The Types of Services our European Office can offer you.

  • Detailed information on the State of Illinois for the foreign investor including its economy, infrastructure, industries, business climate, real estate costs, costs of business set up and costs of running a business.
  • Planning assistance to allow you select the best possible location in Illinois
  • Travel advice and arrangements for touring green-field sites, industrial buildings, warehousing and offices in the Chicago area as well as throughout the state, including industrial locations with special tax or business incentives.
  • Setting up of appointments with business contacts with international experience. Our network of partners have extensive experience in assisting foreign investors set up in Illinois, and include :
    • Legal, Accounting, Real Estate, Financial, Human Resources, Government resources , Personnel Relocation and more.
  • Advice on financial incentives and grants that may be applicable for your business start up in Illinois.



Tax Information

Visa and Immigration Information


State Governor: J.B. Pritzker


Governor J.B. Pritzker

Contact Info Illinois

Contact Name:
Sharon L. Stead, Managing Director, CASE Treasurer

SilverSquare, Ave Louise 523,
1050 Brussels, Belgium.
Phone: 32-2-6465730

Email: sstead@illinoiseurope.com 

State Demographics Illinois

Population: 12.8 Million (2017)
Gross State Product: $823 Billion (2017)
Exports: $64.9 billion (2017)
Labor Force: 6.5 Million (2017)
Capital City: Springfield
Principal Cities: Chicago, Springfield, Rockford, Champaign-Urbana.

Illinois Events Calendar

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C.A.S.E. aisbl Call Centre

(Belgian registered international non-profit-organisation BE07.647.874.91)

+32 488 331 972

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Mon - Fri: 10:00 - 16:00 C.E.T.