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SBA Announces Cooperative Agreements Available for State Trade and Export Promotion

The U.S. Small Business Administration has announced that states will be able to immediately apply for SBA cooperative agreement awards that support efforts to increase exporting by small businesses.  The State Trade and Export Promotion (STEP) Program was appropriated $18 million to make awards by September 30, 2016. STEP Program cooperative agreements will be awarded on a competitive basis.

“Last year, the SBA surpassed our record for trade finance, by supporting $3.3 billion in export sales. I believe we can do even more to help our small businesses reach the 95 percent of consumers who live outside our borders,” said SBA Administrator Maria Contreras-Sweet. “Small businesses are increasingly engaging in the ever evolving global market place. Through our STEP awards, states can transform more small businesses to become exporters and expand their export sales. In the process, these small businesses will create jobs and strengthen their communities.”

According to SBA Regional Administrator Kellie LeDet, who oversees the agency’s programs and services for New Jersey, New York, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands, the STEP Program has two objectives: 1) increase the number of small businesses that begin to export and 2) increase the value of exports for small businesses that currently export.  The 50 states, the District of Columbia, Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, U.S. Virgin Islands, Guam, American Samoa and Commonwealth of Northern Mariana Islands are eligible to apply. The award amounts will vary based on the awardee’s proposed project plan, budget, and competitive quality.  Expanding the base of small business exporters and making the process as easy as possible is a key component of the Administration’s National Export Initiative NEXT.

“Results for the STEP program have had a significant impact on the local economy,” said LeDet.  “Last year, New Jersey received a $498,000 STEP Grant that was administered by the NJ Department of State’s Office of International Business Development and Protocol.  That money has been invested in foreign trade missions, subscriptions to U.S. Department of Commerce Services, tradeshow exhibits, website translations, and global trade seminars all with the idea of helping and strengthening New Jersey small businesses to export their products and services overseas.”

In 2014, New Jersey received a STEP Grant for $275,000 which helped to generate $55 million in export sales and created or supported more than 170 jobs throughout the state.  Additionally, participating companies attended trade events in countries around the world, including Chile, China, Germany, the United Arab Emirates, South Africa, and Australia.

A state may not submit more than one application for a STEP award and must support the following export related activities: participation in trade missions, foreign market sales trips, design of international marketing campaigns, export trade show exhibits, export training workshops or other export initiatives that are in line with the objectives of the program.

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