February 5, 2021

Virtual Roundtable Recap: Global Partnerships, Local Impact in Rockford, IL

The U.S. Global Leadership Coalition (USGLC), in partnership with Cargill, convened a virtual roundtable with elected officials, community leaders, and business and non-profit executives in the Rockford area. Participants discussed America’s agriculture and international affairs programs and the critical role they play in strengthening American global leadership and helping to create jobs, feed the hungry, and reduce poverty across Illinois and around the world. Here’s what some of these leaders had to say:

  • Steven Fricke, President of the Stephenson County, Illinois Farm Bureau: “In a state where agricultural exports help drive our economy, we have to make sure our farms are as sustainable as they are profitable—because that feeds into everything else. It helps to support thousands of jobs and keep up global demand for our crops, which keeps people fed in Illinois and around the world.”
  • Gene Crume, President, Judson University: “It’s inspiring to meet and work with so many international students. They help to advance critical research and enrich student life at Illinois’ universities while also contributing nearly $2 billion to our economy each year. But more than that, these exchanges build goodwill abroad and strengthen our alliances, tying directly into our country’s economic and security interests.
  • Dave Syverson, Illinois Senate: “Illinois thrives when our global ties are strong — leading to more jobs, a stronger economy, and safer communities. But without American global leadership, these connections wouldn’t be possible, at least not to the same degree. By engaging with the world, we’re not only improving the lives of Illinoisans, but of people across this country and around the world.”

The conversation was led by Dan Glickman, former Secretary of Agriculture and senior advisor to USGLC, who said, “As one of the country’s top agricultural exporters, Illinois farmers are literally helping to feed the world. With the ongoing pandemic, their agricultural products are even more essential for people at risk of hunger and starvation. America’s role in the world is more important than ever for Illinois—not only to help address the global impacts of COVID-19, but to support American jobs and getting our economy back on track.”

Statewide Network Supporting Global Leadership

Illinois has an active State Advisory Committee of more than 120 business, faith, military, government, and community leaders committed to strong investments in U.S. global engagement to help keep America safe and strengthen Illinois’ economy. They include:

  • The Honorable Peter Roskam – former U.S. Representative
  • John Hewko – General Secretary, Rotary International
  • Richard Guebert – President, Illinois Farm Bureau
  • Julie Schmidt – Director of World Leaders Forum, Judson University

You can find a full list of Illinois’ State Advisory Committee members here: https://www.usglc.org/downloads/advisory-committees/IL-Advisory-Committee.pdf

Global Engagement Supports Illinois Impact

The numbers speak for themselves.  America’s investments in global leadership support the Illinois economy and local jobs:

  • Illinois exported more than $59 billion worth of goods in 2019, with international trade supporting more than 5 million jobs in the state
  • The U.S. Trade and Development Agency has helped facilitate $2.4 billion in exports from Illinois companies since 1992
  • 53,724 international students were enrolled in Illinois colleges and universities and contributed $1.9 billion to the Illinois economy in 2019

Building the Future

Two Illinois professionals were recently selected to join nearly 100 other young leaders from 33 states as part in the USGLC’s inaugural Next Gen Leaders Network. Through this year-long program, participants will receive leadership and advocacy training, interact with policymakers and opinion leaders, and draw connections between U.S. global engagement and their own communities. The two Illinois Next Gen Leaders are:

  • Tricia Rae Pendergrast; Medical Student, Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine; Co-Founder, GetMePPEChicago; Chicago, IL
  • Brad Tietz; Vice President of Government Relations, Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce; Chicago, IL

Liz Schrayer, USGLC President and CEO: “[T]his next generation is truly our future. Instead of seeing borders, they see solutions by working with partners around the world on issues like climate, hunger, global health and so many others that matter to American kitchen table issues. By investing in them, we are building a new cadre of advocates ready to educate policymakers about why leading globally matters locally.”

The U.S. Global Leadership Coalition (www.usglc.org) is a broad-based influential network of 500 businesses and NGOs; national security and foreign policy experts; and business, faith-based, academic, military, and community leaders in all 50 states who support strategic investments to elevate development and diplomacy alongside defense in order to build a better, safer world.