Metro Chicago ExportsMetro Chicago Exports (MCE) today announced the appointment of Thomas Hulseman as founding managing director. In this new role, he will help lead 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 mid-sized enterprises (SMEs) and to support regional job growth.

“Leading Metro Chicago Exports is an extraordinary opportunity and we are pleased to have Thomas Hulseman on board,” stated Cook County President Toni Preckwinkle.  “This is an entrepreneurial program.  His appointment represents continued progress in our efforts to accelerate export growth and jobs in our region.”

Hulseman’s appointment was announced during the third convening of the political and economic development leadership of the Chicago region held in Will County on Thursday, January 22, 2015. This group was formed by Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle in December of 2013 to explore opportunities for collaboration to promote a stronger regional economy. Metro Chicago Exports, the first program to come out of the regional effort, was announced in September 2014. Other priorities include streamlining truck permitting and strengthening the metal manufacturing sector.

“This is the next step to helping ensure that Chicago’s small exporting businesses have access to the supports and resources they need to take their companies to the next level,” said Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel. “Metro Chicago Exports can serve as a springboard to help these businesses increase their global competitiveness, support local job growth and make Chicago a national leader in exports.”

Hulseman will be responsible for managing and facilitating MCE’s day-to-day activities and will be directly accountable to the Metro Chicago Steering Committee, which includes representatives of all seven counties and the City of Chicago. He brings 20 years of international experience partnering with major US corporations s including Starbucks, McDonald’s, 7-Eleven, Solo Cup and Costco. His background includes expanding exports of U.S. goods as International Director for Solo Cup, a Chicago manufacturer engaged in global expansion, cross-functional team leadership and development of new product initiatives.

Larry Walsh, Will County Executive said “I appreciated the opportunity to host the other County leaders and their delegations at the new Silver Cross Hospital.  The event brought together representatives from the public and private sectors to build momentum for county-led initiatives that foster regional cooperation and economic growth. Our efforts to increase exports and streamline truck permitting in the region are off to a strong start. I believe these initiatives will directly benefit business in Will County and make the entire region more competitive for jobs and investment.”

Metro Chicago Exports will assist manufacturers and business service companies to reach new international markets. This pilot program is focusing on three initial strategies:

  • Build the pipeline of export ready firms
  • Strengthen the export ecosystem
  • Reduce the initial business costs to reach new markets

Metro Chicago Exports builds on 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. For more information on Metro Chicago Exports, visit

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