SBA awards Empire State Development $250,000 in state trade expansion program funding to expand exporting opportunities for NYS small businesses

Mon, Sep 28th 2020 01:50 pm

As the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) marks 10 years of supporting small business growth through its competitive state trade expansion (STEP) grant program, the federal agency announced the newest round of state awards that support export growth among U.S. small businesses.

The SBA announced at the end of National Small Business Week that the federal agency will provide $250,000 to Empire State Development’s Global NY division through this award that will be further increased by the state entity with $134,615 in matching funds.

“The opportunities for small businesses to grow through exporting are substantial, especially during this unprecedented time. The COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in a paradigm shift to increased web-based sales and virtual trade missions,” said SBA Regional Administrator Steve Bulger, who oversees the federal agency’s operations in the Atlantic and Mid-Atlantic regions. “Ninety-six percent of a small business’ potential customers live outside the U.S. and two-thirds of the world’s purchasing power is in foreign countries.”

According to Bulger, the SBA’s STEP program is designed to meet three distinctive goals: “The first is to increase the number of small businesses that export not only in New York, but around the nation.” The second is to increase the value of exports for small businesses while the final goal is to increase the number of small businesses exploring significant new trade opportunities. “Expanding the base of small business exporters in New York, while making the process as easy as possible, is a key component of the Trump administration’s small business strategy.”

Since the beginning of the STEP program a decade ago years ago, approximately $157 million in grants to fund export opportunities that increase the footprint of American small businesses globally. STEP awards will allow states to assist small businesses with the information and tools they need to succeed in export-related activities that are in line with the objectives of the program. 

“By helping small businesses innovate and find new markets, exporting allows small firms to weather economic downturns, while maintaining global competitiveness and driving job creation,” said SBA Buffalo District Director Franklin J. Sciortino. “It’s programs like STEP that will encourage and assist more small businesses to develop new markets around the world.”

Approved STEP funds can assist New York small businesses with:

  • Participation in programmed foreign trade missions
  • Subscription to services provided by the Department of Commerce
  • Trade show exhibition (international and qualified domestic trade shows)
  • Participation in export training workshops
  • Qualified foreign market sales trips

For 2020, a total of $19 million in funding has been awarded to 47 state international trade agencies through SBA’s competitive STEP program, an increase in last year’s total award dollars.

STEP awards are managed and provided at the local level by state government organizations, which often issues them on a reimbursement basis. The program is managed at the national level by the SBA’s office of international trade (OIT). For more information about STEP program and other export resources provided by the SBA, visit the SBA’s business guide to exporting products.

For additional information about small business exporting resources, visit Or contact an SBA resource partner, such as a local Small Business Development Center and its export outreach team, for additional information about local government and trade agencies that support small business exports.

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