FRANKFORT, Ky. — The U.S. Small Business Administration announced Friday that 48 state international trade agencies, including the Kentucky Cabinet for Economic Development (KCED), successfully competed for $19 million in grants to support export growth among small businesses through SBA’s competitive State Trade Expansion Program (STEP).
The 2020 STEP awards will provide states with resources to assist their small businesses by accessing the information and tools they need to succeed in export-related activities.
The KCED will receive $300,000 from SBA, and Kentucky is providing a $100,000 match. The state has received more than $2.4 million by the SBA’s Office of International Trade (OIT) to promote exporting activities for its small businesses. This program has helped companies across the state establish an international presence and grow their businesses.
“The SBA is committed to assisting small businesses to enter and prosper in the global marketplace,” said Loretta Greene, associate administrator for SBA’s Office of International Trade. “Through SBA’s STEP awards, states provide small businesses with the critical funding they need to thrive internationally while creating jobs and strengthening their communities.”
The opportunities for small businesses to grow by exporting are substantial, especially during this unprecedented time. The COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in a paradigm shift to increased web-based sales and virtual trade missions to reach 95 percent of the world’s consumers located outside the United States. Exporting is an important way for U.S. businesses to grow revenue and diversify their customer base.
STEP is designed to help small businesses take advantage of these opportunities by increasing the number of small businesses that export, the value of their exports and the number of small businesses that explore significant new trade opportunities. Expanding the base of small business exporters and streamlining the process is a key component of the Administration’s small business strategy.
Since the creation of the STEP program 10 years ago, SBA has awarded approximately $157 million in grants to fund export opportunities to increase the footprint of small businesses in countries all over the world.
STEP awards help fund exporting activities, such as participating in foreign trade missions and foreign market sales trips, obtaining services provided by the U.S. Department of Commerce, accessing expertise in designing international marketing campaigns and export trade show exhibits, participating in training workshops, and more.
The STEP awards are managed and provided at the local level by state government organizations, such as the KCED through its Kentucky Export Initiative. The program is managed at the national level by the SBA’s OIT.
For more information about STEP program and other export resources provided by the SBA, visit the SBA’s business guide to exporting products.