SBA announces $19 million in grants for state trade development

October 10, 2023

Trade represents nearly 58 percent of the world’s $80 trillion economy—and 95 percent of the world’s consumers are located outside the United States, presenting an enormous opportunity for U.S. small business.

The State Trade Expansion Program (STEP) of the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) was designed to assist states with increasing the number of small businesses that export — as well as the value of those exports, an important way for U.S. small businesses to grow revenue and boost local economies.

In September, SBA announced a total of $19 million in grant awards to fund 46 state international trade agencies in the program’s ninth grant cycle.

The principal goal of the STEP program is to increase the number of small businesses exporting to foreign markets and to increase the value of those exports.


STEP Grants 2022-2023

New Hampshire250,000.00444,336.00
New Jersey500,000.00850,000.00
New York500,000.00900,000.00
Rhode Island200,000.00150,000.00
Northeast Total$3,774,000.00$4,793,336.00
Puerto Rico200,000.00200,000.00
U.S. Virgin Islands168,200.00160,509.00
CSG East Total$4,142,200.00$5,153,845.00

The Eastern Trade Council (ETC) was formed in 1999 to facilitate cooperation among the ten northeastern states in export development. Throughout the administration of the STEP grant program, ETC has promoted cooperation between CSG East states and the federal government/SBA.

Ten ETC jurisdictions were awarded STEP grants totaling approximately $4.79 million this year, an increase from $3.7 million last year.

Of note in this year’s STEP cycle, Delaware opted out of the application process due to the burdensome administrative requirements of the program. Instead, the State of Delaware chose to fund the equivalent of the STEP grant funding to the Export Delaware program.

STEP grants are used to assist small businesses with the information and tools they need to succeed in export-related activities, including participation in foreign trade missions and foreign market sales trips and export promotion services provided by the U.S. Department of Commerce (USDOC). The grants also support the design of international marketing campaigns, export trade show exhibits, training workshops, and more. Improving the outreach and impact of the grant’s reach remains a primary objective for the ETC board; therefore, ETC continues to work with the SBA, USDOC, and State International Development Organization to improve the grant’s parameters to maximize access of small business exporters to potential export opportunities.

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