WASHINGTON, April 7, 2015 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — Administrator Maria Contreras-Sweet, on her one-year anniversary as the head of the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) was at the Maryland State House today to announce that states will be able to apply for cooperative agreement awards from the federal agency starting April 8 to support efforts to increase exporting by small businesses. She was joined by Governor Hogan and members of the Maryland legislature, to highlight the previous success the state of Maryland has had with this award program. The State Trade and Export Promotion (STEP) Program, in line with the goal of creating bold market opportunities for entrepreneurs across the nation, will award $17.4 million to states by September 30, 2015. The matching grant recipients will be selected on a competitive basis.
“Last year, the SBA shattered our record for trade finance, supporting $3.1 billion in exports. We can do even more to help our small businesses reach the 95 percent of consumers who live outside our borders,” said Administrator Contreras-Sweet. “Through STEP, more small businesses will become exporters and expand their export sales. In the process, these small businesses will create jobs and strengthen the economies in their communities, across their states and the nation.”
The STEP initiative has two objectives: 1) increase the number of small businesses that begin to export, and 2) increase the value of exports for small businesses that currently export. The 50 states, the District of Columbia, Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, U.S. Virgin Islands, Guam, American Samoa and Commonwealth of Northern Mariana Islands are eligible to apply. The award amounts will vary based on the project plan, budget, and competitive quality proposed by the state. Expanding the base of small business exporters and making the process as easy as possible is a key component of the Administration’s National Export Initiative NEXT.
Results for the STEP program have been very strong. Maryland received $1.2 million over two previous years of receiving this award. 118 Maryland businesses participated, resulting in $29 million in reported exports sales by Maryland small businesses. Nationally, over 32,000 small businesses have had their exporting activity supported by STEP grants. Based upon the first two years of STEP Program award funding of $58 million, state awardees nationally have reported almost $1.2 billion in small business export sales. This equates to a return on Federal taxpayer investment of over nineteen to one.
A state may not submit more than one application for a STEP award and should support the following export related activities: participation in foreign trade missions, foreign market sales trips, subscription services provided by the U.S. Department of Commerce, design of international marketing campaigns, export trade show exhibits, training workshops or other export initiatives that are in line with the objectives of the pilot program.
Release Number: 15-23
SOURCE U.S. Small Business Administration