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The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) has announced a dedication of $20 million to support the growth of small businesses in international trade. Through its State Trade Expansion Program (STEP), the SBA will provide grants to 49 state and territory international trade agencies across the country. These funds will enable small businesses to become trade-ready, participate in foreign trade shows, and expand through global e-commerce. The STEP program has already awarded $235.5 million in grants since its establishment in 2010, directly supporting over 13,000 small businesses in their international expansion and export growth. This commitment reflects the Biden-Harris Administration’s goal of promoting opportunities for American small businesses to grow and compete on the international stage.
SBA Dedicates $20 Million to New Small Business Export Growth
Administrator Guzman Announces 2023 State Trade Expansion Program Awardees
The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) has allocated $20 million in grants to support small business export growth. The grants have been awarded to 49 state and territory international trade agencies across the country as part of the SBA’s State Trade Expansion Program (STEP). This program aims to provide funding to small businesses looking to expand their businesses and tap into international trade opportunities. With these funds, small businesses will have the opportunity to become trade-ready, participate in trade shows in foreign markets, and grow through global e-commerce.
Administrator Isabella Casillas Guzman, the head of the SBA, highlighted the importance of the STEP program in supporting small businesses and the economy. This program has been a federal and state partnership for over ten years, providing much-needed funding to small businesses seeking to grow through international trade. By leveling the playing field for entrepreneurs, the program ensures that American small businesses can promote their products and services to a global audience, reaching over 95% of the world’s consumers who live abroad.
Purpose of the Grants
The grants awarded through the State Trade Expansion Program (STEP) aim to support small businesses in their international expansion and export growth efforts. By offsetting costs associated with export-related activities, such as participating in foreign trade missions, designing international marketing campaigns, attending export trade show exhibits, and engaging in training workshops, the grants enable small businesses to compete globally. These funds play a crucial role in strengthening the base of small business exporters and improving their global competitiveness on the international stage.
Impact of the State Trade Expansion Program
Since its inception in 2010 as part of The Small Business Jobs Act, the STEP program has had a significant impact on small business export growth. It has awarded a total of $235.5 million in grants and directly supported over 13,000 small businesses in expanding internationally. The return on investment for states participating in the program has been impressive, with every $1 in STEP funding resulting in $43 in export sales. This program has proven to be a critical tool in helping small businesses enter and expand into the international marketplace.
Goal of Leveling the Playing Field for Entrepreneurs
One of the primary goals of the State Trade Expansion Program (STEP) is to level the playing field for entrepreneurs. By providing funding and resources to small businesses, the program ensures that they have an equal opportunity to compete globally. Through access to funding for trade-related activities and support for navigating international markets, small businesses can overcome barriers and successfully expand their businesses beyond domestic borders. This program aligns with the Biden-Harris Administration’s commitment to expanding opportunities for American small businesses to grow and compete on the global stage.
History of the STEP Program
The State Trade Expansion Program (STEP) was created in 2010 as part of The Small Business Jobs Act. It has since been an instrumental federal and state partnership in supporting small business export growth. Over the years, the program has evolved and adapted to the changing needs and challenges faced by small businesses in the international marketplace. As it enters its second decade, the SBA is committed to modernizing and marketing this signature program to continue helping small businesses enter and expand into the global market.
Benefits of STEP Awards
The STEP awards provide significant benefits to small businesses looking to expand internationally. These include:
Financial Support: The grants awarded through the STEP program offer financial support to offset the costs of export-related activities, making international expansion more accessible for small businesses.
Trade-Readiness: Small businesses can use the funds to become trade-ready, equipping themselves with the necessary resources and knowledge to navigate international markets successfully.
Access to Foreign Markets: The grants allow small businesses to participate in foreign trade missions, attend trade shows in foreign markets, and engage in other activities that enable them to access new customers and opportunities abroad.
Networking and Learning: The program provides small businesses with opportunities to network with other businesses and learn from industry experts through training workshops and international events.
Selection Process for Awardees
The selection process for the State Trade Expansion Program (STEP) awardees is highly competitive. State and territory international trade agencies across the country submit applications to the SBA, outlining their plans for utilizing the funds to support small business export growth. The SBA evaluates these applications based on various criteria, including the agency’s track record in supporting small businesses, the proposed use of funds, and the potential impact on small business exporters. Through this rigorous selection process, the SBA ensures that the grants are awarded to organizations that can effectively support small businesses in their international expansion efforts.
Management of Individual STEP Awards
Once awarded, individual STEP awards are managed at the local level by state government organizations and nonprofit entities. These organizations work closely with small businesses, providing them with guidance and assistance in utilizing the funds effectively. The organizations play a crucial role in helping small businesses develop trade strategies, navigate international markets, and overcome any hurdles they may face along the way. By providing personalized support and mentorship, these entities ensure that small businesses make the most of their STEP awards and achieve success in the global marketplace.
How to Find Out If Your State Earned an Award
To find out if your state or territory has earned a State Trade Expansion Program (STEP) award, and to explore funding opportunities, you can visit the official website of the U.S. Small Business Administration (www.sba.gov/STEP). The website provides information on the awardees and offers resources for small businesses interested in expanding internationally. Additionally, the website also highlights the role of local Small Business Administration Resource Partners in providing counseling and guidance to small businesses on their export strategies. These Resource Partners can provide valuable insights and assistance in leveraging the STEP awards for maximum impact.
About the U.S. Small Business Administration
Mission of the U.S. Small Business Administration
The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) has a mission to make the American dream of business ownership a reality. As the only go-to resource and voice for small businesses backed by the strength of the federal government, the SBA empowers entrepreneurs and small business owners with the resources and support they need to start, grow, or expand their businesses. The SBA’s ultimate goal is to ensure that small businesses have the opportunity to succeed and contribute to the nation’s economic growth.
Resources and Support for Small Business Owners
The SBA provides a wide range of resources and support to small business owners across the country. These include access to capital through loan programs, assistance in government contracting, counseling and training programs, disaster recovery support, and advocacy on behalf of small businesses. By offering these resources and support, the SBA aims to remove barriers and create a conducive environment for small business owners to thrive.
Delivery of Services through SBA Field Offices
The SBA delivers its services through an extensive network of SBA field offices located throughout the United States. These field offices serve as a one-stop-shop for small businesses, offering personalized assistance and guidance. Small business owners can visit their nearest SBA field office to access resources, get expert advice, and connect with local partners who can further support their business needs. The SBA’s localized approach ensures that small businesses can access the support they need, tailored to their specific circumstances.
Partnerships with Public and Private Organizations
The SBA understands the importance of collaboration and partnerships in supporting small businesses effectively. As such, it works closely with public and private organizations to expand the reach of its resources and programs. Through strategic partnerships, the SBA leverages the expertise and resources of various organizations to provide a comprehensive support ecosystem for small businesses. These partnerships range from collaborations with financial institutions to deliver loan programs to alliances with business organizations and trade associations to provide networking and educational opportunities.
In conclusion, the Small Business Administration’s dedication of $20 million to new small business export growth through the State Trade Expansion Program is a significant investment in supporting small businesses’ international expansion efforts. By providing financial support, trade-readiness resources, access to foreign markets, and networking opportunities, the program aims to level the playing field for entrepreneurs and empower them to compete globally. Through its partnerships and extensive network of field offices, the Small Business Administration continues to be a valuable resource for small business owners, ensuring they have the necessary resources and support to succeed in the ever-expanding global marketplace.
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