SBA Announces Grants Available for State Trade and Export Promotion

The SBA announces that for the third year, states will be able to apply for grants from the U.S. Small Business Administration starting April 21 to support efforts to increase exporting by small businesses.  The State Trade and Export Promotion (STEP)Grant Program was appropriated $8 million to award grants by September 30, 2014. Grants will be awarded on a competitive basis.

According to SBA’s New Jersey District Director Al Titone, The STEP initiative has two objectives. The first objective is to increase the number of small businesses that begin to export, while the second objective is to 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 and budget.  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.

“With today’s technological advances, small businesses are better equipped than ever to compete in a global marketplace,” said Maria Contreras-Sweet, Administrator of the U.S. Small Business Administration. “Exporting provides tremendous opportunities for America’s small businesses that are looking to expand and grow. The STEP program is another way that the SBA is partnering with states to give small businesses the tools and resources they need to take their business to the next level,”

“Last year, the New Jersey Office of International Business Development & Protocol received a little over $203,000 from the SBA STEP program to help develop a program to assist small business owners interested in exporting to China,” said Titone. “In 2013, New Jersey companies exported $36.4 billion in goods and services and ranked 26th among all 50 states.  Hopefully, New Jersey will qualify for another STEP Grant, which will only help to improve the state’s future standing in exporting.”

Results for the STEP program have been very strong. In FY 2012, awardees reported a return on investment of federal funds of over seventeen-to-one.

According to Titone, a state may not submit more than one application for a STEP grant and should support the following export related activities: participation in foreign trade missions, foreign market sales trips, subscription services provided by the U.S. Department of Commerce, design of international marketing campaigns, export trade show exhibits, training workshops or other export initiatives that are in line with the objectives of the pilot program.

The STEP grant program announcement will be posted at on April 21, 2014.  The application period will be from April 21 through May 20.

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