State Trade Expansion Program (STEP): Should your business start exporting?

November 5, 2020

As many small businesses work to recover or restructure their business, exporting may be an option to consider. According the SBA, total US Exports are $2.5 trillion with New England exports totaling $54 billion. Connecticut exports represent 30% of overall exports from New England, totaling $180 million. *

The Connecticut Small Business Development Center has a team of advisors who work exclusively with clients who are looking to expand customer acquisition. For businesses looking to start exporting, we can help you apply for grants like the SBA’s State Trade and Expansion (STEP) Program. STEP is designed to help small businesses get started exporting by providing funds to be used in a variety of activities, including:

  • Translation/Interpreter fees
  • US Department of Commerce commercial services fees
  • International materials/Collateral translation
  • Website translation and optimization
  • Export training registration fees
  • B2B matchmaking registration fees
  • Compliance testing
  • In-person and virtual Trade mission/Trade show cost (including registration/booth fee, furniture, graphics, signage, shipping)

Businesses who apply and receive a STEP grant may have 75% of eligible expenses covered up to a maximum of $7,500 per activity, for a maximum total of $15,000 per eligible company per program year. This means that small businesses can engage in and apply for more than one STEP activity in a program year. For example, if you wanted to revamp your website to be international-friendly you could use the first round of funds for that and then later apply to STEP again if you wanted to attend a trade show abroad to market your business further. It is important to note that these expenses will be reimbursed, meaning there will be some upfront cost.

The application period for this program year began September 30, 2020 and runs through September 29, 2021. We suggest businesses who are interested in exporting to apply as soon as possible. Sign up for no-cost CTSBDC advising today to learn more about how this program can help you, and get started on your international trade journey!

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