Chafee Center receives $200K from SBA to support small-business export growth

SMITHFIELD – The John H. Chafee Center for International Business at Bryant University became the beneficiary of a six-figure federal grant from the U.S. Small Business Administration to help support small-business export growth within the state.

The SBA announced Thursday that the Chafee Center, which manages the state trade office and the SBA’s State Trade Export and Promotions program, has been awarded a $200,000 grant to assist small businesses with information and tools needed in order to succeed in export-related activities. Such activities include participating in foreign trade missions, market sales trips, designing international marketing campaigns, participating in export trade show exhibits and attending training workshops.

Mike Vlacich, the SBA’s New England regional administrator, said in a statement that with 96% of consumers living outside the U.S. and two-thirds of the world’s purchasing power existing in foreign countries, leveling the playing field for opportunity for small businesses to access these potential clients is “critical.”

“Thanks to this federal funding, the John H. Chafee Center for International Business is able to support new and existing small business exporters increase sales and expand markets through SBA’s State Trade Expansion Program,” Vlacich said.

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The funding is part of the $20 million in total grant assistance that the SBA is awarding to state international trade agencies throughout the U.S. via the State Trade Expansion Program, the SBA said. In a statement, SBA Rhode Island District Director Mark S. Hayward said the Chafee Center for the last 10 years has utilized STEP funding to help grow Rhode Island small businesses, allowing them to increase their international presence and sales “without major impact on their bottom line.”

James Bessette is the PBN special projects editor, and also covers the nonprofit and education sectors. You may reach him at You may also follow him on Twitter at @James_Bessette.