Some $18 million in funding has been awarded to 47 state international trade agencies through SBA’s competitive State Trade Expansion Program (STEP), to support export growth among U.S. small businesses, according to the U.S. Small Business Administration (US-SBA).
STEP is designed to meet three distinctive goals: to increase the number of small businesses that export, to increase the value of exports for small businesses, and to increase the number of small businesses that explore significant new trade opportunities. Expanding the base of small business exporters and making the process as easy as possible is a key component of SBA’s small business strategy.
“The SBA is committed to ensuring equal access for small businesses to international markets and expanding export opportunities, and ensuring that small businesses have the resources they need to drive their businesses and local communities forward,” said SBA Administrator Linda McMahon.
“The STEP awards are an important resource that provide small businesses with the confidence and funding they need to thrive in this competitive international market,” he said.
Since the beginning of the STEP program seven years ago, approximately $138 million in grants have been awarded to fund export opportunities and increase the footprint of small businesses in countries all over the world.
“We are pleased to announce that a $150,000 STEP grant has been awarded to the Virgin Islands Economic Development Authority so that it may continue helping local small businesses increase their participation in export and international trade,” said SBA District Director Yvette T. Collazo.
The 2018 STEP awards will allow states to assist small businesses with the information and tools they need to succeed in export-related activities that are in line with the objectives of the program. These objectives include participation in foreign trade missions, foreign market sales trips, services provided by the U.S. Department of Commerce, as well as the design of international marketing campaigns, export trade show exhibits, training workshops and more.
STEP awards are managed and provided at the local level by state government organizations. The program is managed at the national level by the U.S. Small Business Administration’s Office of International Trade.