Exporting for small businesses now a STEP away with SBA

Carlos Medina, Pres SHCCNJ, Maria Contreras-Sweet, SBA Administrator, Luis O De la Hoz, SVP The Intersect Fund, and Tayde Aburto, Pres HCEC.

From left to right, Carlos Medina, Pres SHCCNJ, Maria Contreras-Sweet, SBA Administrator, Luis O De la Hoz, SVP The Intersect Fund, and Tayde Aburto, Pres HCEC.

Have you been thinking of expanding your business globally looking for new opportunities, maybe in Latin America where you dominate the language and have strong business and family connections?

For small business owners, it might be a scary proposition to get entangled with the import-export red tape but now The State Trade and Export Promotion Grant Program (STEP), a 3-year pilot trade and export initiative to make matching-fund grants for states to assist “eligible small business concerns,” enter and succeed in the international marketplace, might give you an opportunity.

About the Program

The STEP Program’s objectives are to increase the number of small businesses that are exporting, and to increase the value of exports for those small businesses that are currently exporting.

The program’s STEP services are managed and provided at the local level by state government organizations. The program is managed at the national level by the U.S. Small Business Administration’s Office of International Trade. At the state level, The Program has total Federal funding of $60,000,000, for use over a two-year period.

Under the statute, the 50 states, District of Columbia, Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, Virgin Islands, Guam, and American Samoa, are eligible to compete for award of matching-fund grants. The ratio of Federal to state matching funds is 75% to 25%, except for high exporting states, for which the ratio of Federal to state matching funds is 65% to 35%, and territorial possessions of the Virgin Islands, Guam, and American Samoa, for which matching funds requirements are waived to a maximum of $200,000.

Services to be provided by states to ‘eligible small business concerns,’ under the Program include support for participation in foreign trade missions and market sales trips, subscription to services provided by the Department of Commerce, design of international marketing products and campaigns, export trade show exhibits, training, and other efforts aligned with Program goals.

Under the Program, in most cases the Federal government provides 75% of the funding required for the total project, and states provide 25%. However, for the top three states in value of exports, the Federal government provides 65% of total funding, while states provide 35%.

For further information regarding the STEP Program, and state-by-state information, please go to

SBA logo


How to Find STEP State Service Providers

  • Award amounts, program descriptions, and points of contact for all states, listed alphabetically[link]
  • Scroll down to table entitled “Current Grants by State,” and click on individual states for award amounts, program descriptions, and points of contact.
  • Contact (link sends e-mail)

Current Grants by State

State Federal Award State Match Award Total
Alabama $115,251.00 $38,417.00 $153,668.00
Arkansas $207,535.00 $69,178.00 $276,713.00
California $747,781.00 $402,605.00 $1,150,386.00
Colorado $195,938.00 $65,313.00 $261,251.00
Connecticut $350,000.00 $116,667.00 $466,667.00
Delaware $276,741.00 $92,247.00 $368,988.00
Hawaii $750,000.00 $250,000.00 $1,000,000.00
Idaho $346,708.00 $115,569.00 $462,277.00
Illinois $685,855.00 $228,618.00 $914,473.00
Iowa $190,000.00 $63,333.00 $253,333.00
Kansas $296,533.00 $98,844.00 $395,377.00
Kentucky $400,000.00 $133,333.00 $533,333.00
Maine $161,048.00 $53,683.00 $214,731.00
Maryland $518,413.00 $172,804.00 $691,217.00
Massachusetts $500,000.00 $166,667.00 $666,667.00
Michigan $750,000.00 $250,000.00 $1,000,000.00
Minnesota $564,132.00 $188,044.00 $752,176.00
Mississippi $540,100.00 $180,033.00 $720,133.00
Missouri $599,000.00 $199,666.00 $798,666.00
Montana $347,688.00 $115,896.00 $463,584.00
Nebraska $300,570.00 $100,190.00 $400,760.00
Nevada $300,000.00 $100,000.00 $400,000.00
New Hampshire $199,878.00 $66,626.00 $266,504.00
New Jersey $498,000.00 $166,000.00 $664,000.00
New Mexico $193,700.00 $64,567.00 $258,267.00
New York $663,893.00 $221,297.00 $885,190.00
North Carolina $746,800.00 $248,933.00 $995,733.00
North Dakota $287,694.00 $95,898.00 $383,592.00
Ohio $700,000.00 $233,333.00 $933,333.00
Oregon $450,000.00 $150,000.00 $600,000.00
Pennsylvania $698,613.00 $232,871.00 $931,484.00
Puerto Rico $288,650.00 $96,217.00 $384,867.00
Rhode Island $373,000.00 $124,333.00 $497,333.00
South Carolina $349,218.00 $116,406.00 $465,624.00
Utah $395,000.00 $131,667.00 $526,667.00
Vermont $174,461.00 $58,154.00 $232,615.00
Virginia $578,500.00 $192,833.00 $771,333.00
Washington $747,300.00 $402,346.00 $1,149,646.00
West Virginia $200,000.00 $66,667.00 $266,667.00
Wisconsin $712,000.00 $237,333.00 $949,333.00

Explore exporting with the SBA

Here are very reasonable steps the Small Business Administration has put together to help you start the process. Small businesses looking to increase sales and profit, reduce dependence on the domestic market and stabilize seasonal fluctuations should consider exporting. Consider these facts:

  • Nearly 96 percent of consumers live outside the U.S.
  • Two-thirds of the world’s purchasing power is in foreign countries.

Step 1: Register on and take the Free Export Readiness Self-Assessment

Create an account on and complete this questionnaire to determine if your small business is ready to begin exporting and get advice on how to expand into new markets. 

Step 2: Training and Counseling

The federal government offers free in-person counseling services to help small businesses obtain export financing and locate business opportunities overseas.

Located in major metropolitan areas throughout the U.S., these centers provide small and medium-sized businesses with local, personalized export assistance by professionals from the U.S. Small Business Administration, the U.S. Department of Commerce, the U.S. Export-Import Bank and other public and private organizations.

The U.S. Commercial Service provides a network of export and industry specialists located in over 100 U.S. cities and 80 countries. These professionals provide free counseling and a variety of services to assist small and midsized U.S. business export efforts.

The U.S. Trade and Development Agency provides this database of companies and individuals providing fee-based consulting services to small businesses interested in importing and exporting.

Take our online training course on exporting to help determine if exporting, as a business strategy, makes sense for your small business and whether the basic ingredients for export readiness are in-place.

Step 3: Create an Export Business Plan

Creating an export business plan is important for defining your company’s present status, internal goals and commitment. You learn how to develop an export plan by assembling facts, identifying constraints and setting specific goals and objectives as milestones to success.

Step 4: Conduct Market Research

Use market research to learn your product’s potential in a given market, where the best prospects exist for success, and common business practices. The Market Research Library (link is external) is the U.S. government’s repository of the latest information prepared by commercial and economic experts in U.S. embassies worldwide. Trade Stats Express is a powerful tool for identifying target markets.

Step 5: Find Buyers

Federal, state and local governments are continually organizing highly focused export events directly putting U.S. sellers and potential foreign buyers in direct contact. Opportunities range from meeting foreign buyer delegations at select U.S. trade shows to signing up for a foreign trade mission or trade show overseas.

Step 6: Investigate Financing Your Small Business Exports, Foreign Investment or Projects

Become familiar with SBA’s export loan programs and other federal government financing, insurance and grant programs to help your company finance its transactions and assist in carrying your export operations. These resources help small businesses ensure foreign payment and manage or remove risk from the equation for both the business and its bank.


This information was reposted from the SBA site