Illinois REALTORS® heading overseas conference in March attended a meeting to help them learn more about how to market the state to an international audience. Photo: Jon Broadbooks

Illinois REALTORS® heading to France next month to represent the industry at one of the world’s largest real estate conferences met Thursday to learn more about the state’s economic attributes.

Mark Peterson, CEO of Intersect Illinois spoke to the group about reasons the state is attractive to foreign firms looking to open businesses. Intersect Illinois is a public-private partnership which works with companies and connects them with state funding resources. He spoke at the meeting held at the Gleacher Center in Chicago.

Illinois REALTOR® Claire Sylvestre discusses cultural differences that those attending MIPIM in March may encounter. Sylvestre, a broker with @properties, was born in Paris, France.

Peterson noted that Illinois is the 17th largest economy in the world, eclipsing neighboring states and most countries.

One primary reason Illinois is so attractive is the presence of an educated workforce, which is among the top things foreign companies look for when looking at a site location.

“We undersell ourselves,” Peterson said. “We are a global powerhouse. We are the 800-pound gorilla, and we need to act that way.”

Foreign companies pump $100 billion a year in direct investment into the state, Peterson said. Illinois is first in the nation for creating new businesses. These stories tend to get lost against a media narrative that the state is too costly for businesses to thrive, Peterson said.

Also presenting at the meeting on Thursday was Claire Sylvestre, a native of Paris, France, and who is a broker with @properties in Chicago.  She talked about the cultural differences MIPIM attendees would run into when they went to the conference March 12-15.

This is the fifth year that Illinois has participated in MIPIM, which is held annually in Cannes, France. Illinois REALTORS® implemented a stipend program to help members attend the conference, which draws real estate developers from throughout the world. The association will have a booth located in the NAR pavilion.