SBA program supports statesÆ small company exports
The U.S. Small Business Administration said states can apply starting March 1 for grants through the newly formed State Trade and Export Promotion (STEP) pilot program to increase small company exports.
The STEP pilot has two main goals:
' Increase the number of small businesses that want to export.
' Raise the value of exports for those small businesses that already export.
Started by the 2010 Small Business Jobs Act, the 50 states, District of Columbia and U.S. territories are all eligible to apply for grants, which will be awarded on a competitive basis.
'These grants, through the partnerships they will create at the state level, will strengthen the support available to help small business take that first step to begin exporting, and for those who are already exporting, grow into additional markets,' said SBA Administrator Karen Mills in a statement.
The Jobs Act authorized for the STEP pilot up to $90 million over three fiscal years, $30 million each year, beginning with the current fiscal year Individual award amounts will vary based on each state's proposed project plan and budget, SBA said.
The agency said a state may not submit more than one application for a grant under the initiative, but may apply each federal fiscal year through the three-year term of the pilot grant initiative. Activities that can be supported with grants may include participation in foreign trade missions, foreign market sales trips, subscription services provided by the Commerce Department, design of international marketing products or campaigns, export trade show exhibits, training workshops or other export initiatives that are in line with the goals of the pilot grant initiative.
The STEP pilot application period will be March 1 through April 26. Awards for the first year of the grant program will be issued in summer of 2011. For more details, access the SBA Web site.