Administrator Maria Contreras-Sweet, head of the U.S. Small Business Administration, last month announced $18.85 million to support export growth among American small businesses. The funding was awarded through SBA’s competitive State Trade Expansion Program. The share for Arizona businesses in Fiscal Year 2016 is $299,903.
Calling it a boon for America’s small businesses, she explains, “Exporting provides tremendous opportunities for America’s small businesses and entrepreneurs. Two-thirds of the world’s purchasing power can be found outside of the United States, but only about one percent of America’s 28 million small businesses are reaching customers beyond our borders. Exporting is an important growth opportunity for our small businesses that are ready to expand their reach into new and increasingly borderless global markets. These STEP awards, in addition to SBA’s export loans and U.S. Export Assistance Centers, help small businesses across our nation have the tools, resources and relationships they need to take their businesses global.”
STEP awards were created to advance key priorities identified in the President’s National Export Initiative — namely, to expand the base of small businesses that become exporters and to make the exporting process as easy as possible for small businesses.
These awards are granted to U.S. states and territories to support programs that help small businesses expand their export-related activities. This includes participation in foreign trade missions, foreign market sales trips and subscription services for access to international markets, as well as the design of international marketing campaigns, export trade show exhibits, export training workshops and more.
STEP funds allow small businesses the opportunity to meet foreign buyers face to face at trade shows or on trade missions, and complement SBA’s export loan guaranty programs, which can finance the working capital needed to complete export orders and, in turn, help finance the expansion of production facilities due to export success. Loans are available up to $5 million. More information can be obtained from SBA’s Export Finance Managers located at 21 U.S. Export Assistance Centers across the country.
Recipients of STEP awards in the first three rounds (FY 2011, 2012, 2014) reported a strong return on federal taxpayer investment, generating $22 in U.S. small-business export sales for every $1 awarded.