The New Jersey Department of State’s Business Action Center has announced that it has been awarded $1 million in federal funds from the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) through the State Trade Expansion Program (STEP), which supports small-business owners looking to export goods.
The state’s successful New Jersey STEP (NJSTEP) program has been awarded funding for eight consecutive years. This year’s funding is the largest in the program’s history, ranking the amount as the second highest awarded to any state.
The program has previously assisted hundreds of businesses, leading to millions of dollars in export sales around the world.
“New Jersey’s diverse small business community is the foundation of the Garden State’s economy,” said New Jersey secretary of state, Tahesha Way. “The SBA award will help businesses who might otherwise not have the resources to sell their goods and services overseas, especially in today’s challenging trade environment.”
Consistent with previous years, 100 percent of the NJ STEP program funds will be awarded to eligible small businesses to help offset costs related to participation in foreign trade missions, international trade shows and exhibitions and services provided by the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Commercial Service. Other activities that qualify include foreign language translation for websites, marketing materials and export training workshops. Grants are awarded to eligible companies on a first-come, first-serve competitive basis.
“The award will help New Jersey’s small businesses reach international audiences,” said New Jersey Business Action Center executive director Melanie Willoughby. “If you are a business owner who has already realized the potential of a global market or an entrepreneur seeking to increase sales and profit by taking your business worldwide, we encourage you to explore this opportunity.”
Now in its eighth year, the New Jersey State Trade Expansion Program (NJSTEP) has helped businesses like Spectraspray Global reach new markets around the world. This Montville-based, spray vitamin company works to support the health and wellness needs of travelers. Using NJSTEP funds, the company was able to attend trade shows in Singapore and New Orleans to reach their target audience, resulting in international awareness and an increase of sales.
“The STEP Grant program has allowed Spectraspray Global to reach foreign markets, improving our ability to land accounts and increase business,” says Janet Ryan, founder of Spectraspray Global. “The STEP grant allows serious small companies to compete with the marketing budgets of larger companies who take things like a trade show budget for granted.”
Another recipient of a NJSTEP financial award is SPEX CertiPrep, a Metuchen-based manufacturer of Certified Reference Materials, used in testing levels of pesticides in organic foods, among other things. The funds paved the way for the company to attend an international trade show in 2019, securing a sizeable order with an international company.
“The STEP Grant has been a contributing factor to our growth,” said Kevin McKeown, SPEX CertiPrep’s vice president of sales “The international trade show we attended gave our company exposure to potential customers from Dubai, Vietnam and other parts of the Middle East and Asia. Getting out in front of people helps you develop contacts and sell products.”
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