By Emily Greenhalgh
PBN Web Editor
WASHINGTON – The U.S. Small Business Administration is inviting states and U.S. territories to apply for part of $30 million in Phase II State Trade and Export Promotion initiative grants.
The initiative – launched under the Small Business Jobs Act of 2010 – is a pilot grant program authorizing up to $90 million in grants to help states increase the number of businesses that export as well as increase the value of exports by small businesses.
In 2011, the STEP initiative awarded 52 grants totaling $30 million. Rhode Island received $496,066 from the initiative last year; the average grant was for $577,000. California was awarded the largest grant, at $2.54 million.
Rhode Island’s money was slated to target emerging foreign markets such as Israel, Brazil, India and Saudia Arabia. Target industries for the Ocean State funds included medical technology, metal manufacturing, computer and software technology, plastics, textiles, energy and infrastructure.
“Federal investment in small-business exporting is already beginning to pay dividends in foreign sales and economic development, which translates into a stronger economy and job creation,” SBA Administrator Karen Mills said Tuesday, March 27, in prepared remarks.
Each state and Puerto Rico, the District of Columbia, the U.S. Virgin Islands, Guam and American Samoa can submit a single application under the program each year.
The states and territories can use the funds to participate in foreign trade missions and market sales trips, subscribe to services provided by the Department of Commerce, design international marketing products and campaigns, create export trade show exhibits and train staff and businesses.
“Through the STEP program, new-to-export and new-to-market firms are selling American products and services in markets all over the world,” said Mills. “The future looks even more exciting - with key marketing initiatives ranging from South Korea, to India and the European Union. This year’s grants will further help states assist small businesses to enter and succeed in the global market.”
The SBA began accepting STEP applications March 27 and will continue to do so until May 17. Awards will be issued by September 30.
For more information, visit www.sba.gov/STEP.