Entrepreneurs interested in selling their products abroad should relish in the fact that there is financial support available from the federal government.
As an outgrowth of the Small Business Jobs Act of 2010, the U.S. Small Business Administration launched a three-year pilot program called the State Trade and Export Promotion Grant Program (STEP). The program’s objectives are to increase the number of small businesses that are exporting, and to raise the value of exports for those small businesses that are currently exporting. STEP is funded by federal grants and matching funds from the states to cover project costs for small businesses.
The SBA recently announced that it is extending the program for another year. The funds may be used to participate in foreign trade missions, market sales trips, product development, marketing campaigns, export trade show exhibits, and other export-related efforts.
STEP services are managed and provided at the local level by state government organizations. The program is managed at the national level by the SBA’s Office of International Trade. Small businesses in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and Guam are eligible to apply for STEP grants. The deadline for submitting a grant application is May 24, 2014.
For the third pilot year, a total of $8 million in federal funding will be awarded to small businesses who qualify. Under the first grant competition in 2011, SBA awarded 51 cooperative agreements, totaling $28,977,094. Under the second competition in 2012, the Agency awarded 52 cooperative agreements, totaling $29,996,182.
Individual state project award amounts varied, based on proposed project plans and budgets. In the first grant competition, the average award value was $568,000. In the second grant competition, the average award value was $577,000.