FRANKFORT, Ky. (Sept. 26, 2017) – Kentucky’s small businesses can apply for a portion of a $530,000 State Trade Expansion Program (STEP) grant, received through the U.S. Small Business Administration, to help companies begin exporting or boost current international sales, Gov. Matt Bevin today announced today.
“Small businesses are the backbone of Kentucky’s economy, and we are excited to see the doors of opportunity that these funds will open,” said Gov. Bevin. “This is the largest sum Kentucky has ever received from STEP and I encourage every small business owner to apply for a chance to use this money to continue introducing high-quality Kentucky products and services to markets around the world.”
The application to receive STEP funding will be available beginning Oct. 1, and the grant period will last until Sept. 29, 2018. Funds will be available on a first-come-first-served basis.
STEP is designed to encourage and boost international trade among Kentucky’s small businesses and help give companies the resources, connections and knowledge necessary to begin exporting. The grant also increases the volume of exports for Kentucky companies already in the international marketplace. The creation and cultivation of global demand for Kentucky-made products and services allows STEP to help businesses grow, invest and create jobs throughout the commonwealth.
Kentucky has been approved for STEP funding in all six rounds since the state began participating, and the latest grant is the largest amount received.
“STEP has been an incredibly useful tool for the Cabinet and the state in our efforts to assist small businesses in finding ways to expand into the international marketplace,” said Terry Gill, secretary at the Cabinet for Economic Development. “The program has given Kentucky companies an opportunity to make connections and create additional sales that support jobs and families in our communities across the state.”
STEP grants help to lower costs for small businesses to encourage participation in international trade missions, sales trips and subscription services provided by the U.S. Department of Commerce. Funds also assist companies with international market research, export trade show exhibit costs, training workshops, travel expenses, translation services and product compliance testing.
STEP, an initiative administered by the Cabinet, previously received a $467,000 grant in 2016; a $400,000 grant in 2015; a $300,000 grant in 2014; a $276,000 grant in 2012; and a $427,000 grant in 2011.
The program aligns directly with the goals of the Kentucky Export Initiative (KEI). Through KEI, the Cabinet partners with a coalition of agencies and organizations. KEI streamlines and elevates the state’s efforts to help Kentucky businesses reach global markets.
With a 3.9-percent increase in exports this year through June compared with the same period last year, the commonwealth’s growth in exports rank it among the nation’s leaders. Through June, Kentucky businesses shipped more than $15.1 billion in products and services to nearly 190 countries.