Exporting of Illinois goods and services garners more attention than importing products, components and services. Both are important to small companies and both are to be reckoned with, regardless of general opinion. World trade and commerce impact our economies, businesses and lives; and this economy is the new normal. During my service on the Illinois General Assembly's Trade Policy Task Force, downstate companies conveyed perspectives and information that focused on two drivers of decision making.

Business succession planning is a community issue. Businesses anchoring our communities and economies for the past 25 to 40 years have owners wanting to retire, in record numbers.[i] For the founding generations- some earned rest… For emerging generations… opportunities to shine. Logic demands that generational differences be understood as part of the succession planning process as well.

Rural America is home to 50 million people, occupies 75% of our space and is breadbasket to the world. And like urban communities, rural areas compete on a worldwide stage for jobs, economic growth and something above survival- aptly described as "quality of life".