Administrator Isabella Casillas Guzman, head of the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) and the voice for America’s 33 million small businesses in President Biden’s Cabinet, announced $20 million in awarded grants resulting in funding for 52 state and territory international trade agencies across the country – the highest number of grantees since the program’s inception. The awardees were selected after a highly competitive application process to SBA’s State Trade Expansion Program (STEP).
“For over 10 years the SBA’s State Trade Expansion Program has been a critical resource for small businesses and startups seeking to enter new markets, diversify and grow revenue streams, and identify new customers – all with an eye toward scaling their business for success,” said Administrator Guzman. “By providing this funding opportunity and leveraging the strengths and expertise across our state governments we can continue to help our diverse entrepreneurs innovate and take advantage of emerging opportunities abroad as we transition to stable, steady growth.”
This year marks the ten-year anniversary of STEP funding, which continues to support export growth and international expansion among small businesses. To date, the program has awarded $215.5 million in grants that directly support small businesses going global. The program remains in high demand with a combined request of over $39 million in funds this year alone.
“We are thrilled to reach this historic ten-year milestone of what has become a very impactful tool for export promotion. We are even more thrilled with the outcomes of the grant; the STEP program continues to be validated by its strengthening returns on investments, increased demand for funding, and expansion of eligible small business concerns addressed” said Associate Administrator for International Trade Gabe Esparza. “We look forward to continuing to support small businesses as they enter the international marketplace.”
The 2022 STEP awards help local entrepreneurs enter and thrive in the global marketplace by providing small businesses with the information and tools they need to succeed in export-related activities. Exporting activities include: participating in foreign trade missions, market sales trips, designing international marketing campaigns, participating in export trade show exhibits, and attending training workshops, as well as other important means of engagement.
Expanding the base of small business exporters and improving the process to explore new trade opportunities is a key component of SBA’s small business strategy, in line with the Biden-Harris Administration’s goals of creating more opportunities for America’s small businesses to grow and compete. Since its creation in 2010 as part of The Small Business Jobs Act, STEP has recorded over $3.8 billion in exports with more than 12,000 small businesses receiving grants to fund their export opportunities and increase their footprint across 141 countries. Last year, for every $1 in funding for STEP, businesses benefited from $42 in export sales. As states improve their exporting skills, the returns on investment keep improving.
Individual STEP awards are managed at the local level by state government organizations. To find out if your state or territory has earned an award, and to apply for funding opportunities, please visit: www.sba.gov/STEP and explore how small business counseling from local SBA Resource Partners can help inform your export strategy.