The grant program is part of a three-year trade and export promotion pilot initiative authorized by the Small Business Administration Act of 2010, which aims to increase the number of small businesses that export, as well as to increase the value of exports for companies that are currently doing so.
“By taking part in this initiative, more and more Kentucky companies will be able to grow their capacity, increase productivity and ultimately sell more of their services and goods abroad,” Gov. Steve Beshear said. “I encourage all eligible businesses to learn more about this beneficial program.”
The STEP grant program is the latest success of the Governor’s Kentucky Export Initiative (KEI), which is managed by the Cabinet for Economic Development. Launched by Gov. Beshear in Dec. 2010, the Kentucky Export Initiative is a consortium of trade and business promotion organizations from across the state whose goal is to grow Kentucky exports.
To support the program, the Cabinet has secured funding, including $427,000 from the STEP grant, $85,000 in a grant from the Appalachian Regional Commission, as well as more than $140,000 directly from the Cabinet.
Successful grant applicants will be able to utilize the funds to perform market research, identify international customers, participate in trade shows, and even translate websites and marketing materials. Grants are available to Kentucky companies with fewer than 500 employees that meet revenue requirements set by the Small Business Administration.
“The Kentucky Export Initiative is an excellent resource for small businesses in the Commonwealth that need help reaching out to the rest of the world,” said Cabinet for Economic Development Secretary Larry Hayes. “The clock is ticking though, because the funding for this initiative expires in September. Small business owners should seize this rare opportunity and get involved now.”
In 2011, Kentucky exported more than $20 billion in goods, ranking the state 16th nationally for exports per capita. Those exports, more than 97 percent of which were manufactured goods, added $5.3 billion to the state’s gross domestic product and created 48,700 direct jobs. Kentucky exports have increased 102 percent from 2001 to 2011.
“Though our numbers are impressive, Kentucky companies have much unexplored potential when it comes to exporting,” Gov. Beshear said. “Small companies, in particular, often don’t realize how accessible and profitable exporting can be with the right assistance. We want to help them fulfill their potential.”
For more information on the STEP grant, visit www.kyexports.com and click on Assistance.