The U.S. Small Business Administration recently announced an $18 million funding opportunity to support export growth among U.S. small businesses.
The funding opportunity will be awarded through SBA’s competitive State Trade Expansion Program (STEP).
States interested in putting in proposals should go to Grants.gov and download the funding opportunity announcement. The deadline for proposals is June 10.
STEP awards were created to advance key priorities identified in the President’s National Export Initiative, namely to expand the base of small businesses that become exporters and to make the exporting process as easy as possible for small businesses.
“The SBA is continuously strengthening its efforts to provide small businesses with the tools and resources they need to compete effectively in the global marketplace,” said SBA District Director Yvette T. Collazo.
“Through the STEP program we partner with the local government to help entrepreneurs market their products and services in foreign countries, so that they are able to expand operations and create jobs. We encourage Puerto Rico and U.S. Virgin Islands government agencies to apply for this round of STEP grants,” Collazo said.
STEP funds allow small businesses the opportunity to meet foreign buyers face-to-face at trade shows or on trade missions, and complement SBA’s export loan guaranty programs, which can finance the working capital needed to complete export orders and help finance the expansion of production facilities due to export success. Loans are available up to $5 million.
More information can be obtained from SBA’s Export Finance Mangers located at 21 U.S. Export Assistance Centers across the country.
Recipients of STEP awards in the first three rounds (FY 2011, 2012, 2014) reported a strong return on federal taxpayer investment, generating $22 in U.S. small business export sales for every $1 awarded.