As the U.S. Small Business Administration marks 10 years of supporting small business growth through its competitive State Trade Expansion (STEP) grant program, the federal agency announced the newest round of state awards that support export growth among United States small businesses.
The SBA is providing $384,930 to the Puerto Rico Trade & Export Company through this award that will be further increased by the municipality with an additional $128,310 in matching funds. The SBA’s portion represents an increase in STEP funding to Puerto Rico by almost $85,000 over Fiscal 19’s amount.
“The opportunities for small businesses to grow through exporting are substantial, especially during this unprecedented time. The COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in a paradigm shift to increased web-based sales and virtual trade missions,” said SBA Regional Administrator Steve Bulger, who oversees the federal agency’s operations in the Atlantic and Mid-Atlantic regions.
“Ninety-six percent of a small business’ potential customers live outside the U.S. and two-thirds of the world’s purchasing power is in foreign countries,” he said, adding that the SBA’s STEP program is designed to meet three goals.
“The first is to increase the number of small businesses that export not only throughout Puerto Rico, but around the nation. The second is to increase the value of exports for small businesses while the final goal is to increase the number of small businesses exploring significant new trade opportunities,” he said.
“Through the STEP program, the SBA is making additional funding available to Puerto Rico’s small businesses community. These vital dollars will not only help expand small firm’s customer bases throughout the world, but the funding awarded to the Puerto Rico Trade and Export Company will help our island small businesses thrive in the global marketplace while increasing their revenues,” said SBA Puerto Rico Acting District Director María de los Ángeles de Jesús.
Since the beginning of the STEP program a decade ago years ago, approximately $157 million in grants to fund export opportunities that increase the footprint of American small businesses globally. STEP awards will allow states to assist small businesses with the information and tools they need to succeed in export-related activities that are in line with the objectives of the program.
Approved STEP funds can assist Puerto Rico small businesses with:
- Participation in programmed foreign trade missions;
- Subscription to services provided by the Department of Commerce;
- Trade show exhibition (international and qualified domestic trade shows);
- Participation in export training workshops; and,
- Qualified foreign market sales trips.