465763435The U.S. Small Business Administration announced that for the third year, states will be able to apply for grants from the SBA to support efforts to increase exporting by small businesses. The State Trade and Export Promotion (STEP) Grant Program was appropriated $8 million to award grants by Sept. 30. Grants will be awarded on a competitive basis.

The STEP initiative has two objectives: increase the number of small businesses that begin to export; and increase the value of exports for small businesses that currently export.

The award amounts will vary based on the awardee’s proposed project plan and budget. Expanding the base of small business exporters and making the process easy is a key component of the Administration’s National Export Initiative, according to an SBA news release.

Results for the STEP program have been strong. In FY 2012, awardees reported a return on investment of federal funds of over 17-to-one.

“With today’s technological advances, small businesses are better equipped than ever to compete in a global marketplace. The STEP program is another way the U.S. Small Business Administration is partnering with states to give small businesses the tools and resources they need to take their business to the next level,” said Maria Contreras-Sweet, administrator of the SBA.

Each state may submit only one application for a STEP grant. The application should support participation in foreign trade missions, foreign market sales trips, subscription services provided by the U.S. Department of Commerce, design of international marketing campaigns, export trade show exhibits, training workshops or other export initiatives that are in line with the objectives of the pilot program.

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The STEP grant program announcement is posted at www.grants.gov. The application period will end May 20. For more information, visit www.sba.gov/step.