The Branded Program effectively doubles international marketing
budgets by reimbursing participants for up to half of their
promotional expenses, including the cost of foreign trade shows,
international travel, advertising, product demonstrations,
point-of-sale materials, and package and label modifications to meet
foreign import requirements.
"This program offers an opportunity for Illinois food companies
to build name recognition in global markets, increase export sales
that are so important for our agriculture industry and to help put
more people to work," Blagojevich said.
Illinois is the fourth-largest exporter of agricultural
commodities in the United States and relies upon foreign trade for
nearly 40 percent of its agricultural income.
The Food Export Association of the Midwest, a nonprofit
association of Midwestern state agricultural promotion agencies,
administers the Branded Program. Funding comes from the U.S.
Department of Agriculture's Foreign Agricultural Service through its
Market Access Program.
Program participants must fit the U.S. Small Business
Administration's definition of a "small company" and must be
incorporated in the United States. In addition, at least half of
their products must be made with domestic ingredients. Agriculture
cooperatives and export agents that work on behalf of U.S. food
companies also are eligible for assistance, provided they meet
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"Food processing is Illinois' top manufacturing activity, so these
funds represent an investment in our future prosperity," Agriculture
Director Chuck Hartke said. "There are nearly 1,500 food companies
in Illinois, and they collectively employ about 90,000 workers."
Questions about Branded Program qualifications, eligible
reimbursements and the application process can be directed to Kim
Hamilton, Illinois Department of Agriculture marketing
representative, at 217-782-5809 or to Food Export Association of the
Midwest at 312-334-9200. Additional information about the program
and a "pre-qualification" worksheet that can help companies assess
their eligibility for funding are available online at
Funds are for international marketing activities in the 2008
calendar year. About $5 million in reimbursements typically is
distributed to program participants in the Midwest every year.
[Text from file received from
Illinois Office of
Communication and Information]