The U.S. Small Business Administration announced today 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, 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.”
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 been very strong. Awardees reported supporting export activities a return on investment of federal funds of over 19:1 from export activities in 85 country markets supported by STEP funding during the first two award years.
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.