The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) has awarded North Carolina a $900,000 State Trade Expansion Program (STEP) grant to help small businesses across the state increase their access to and reach in global markets.
The STEP program provides financial awards to states and U.S. territories to assist small businesses in exporting, such as travel costs for trade shows, e-commerce support and marketing assistance. The 2023-2024 funding period is the 11th year of the program, which to date has administered over $200 million dollars.
“The STEP program is more popular than ever before. More and more small businesses in our state are looking to expand internationally to access 95% of the world’s purchasing power,” said Mike Hubbard, director of international trade at the Economic Development Partnership of North Carolina (EDPNC). “In the last funding round, the EDPNC allocated the $750,000 grant within the first three months. With this year’s increase to $900,000 we can help more businesses than ever before.”
North Carolina’s STEP grant is administered locally by the EDPNC and its International Trade team. Qualifying businesses of 500 or fewer employees can receive up to $16,000 to be used for trade show assistance and export services, which include commercial service offerings, export credit insurance and marketing assistance, such as website localization for international markets, translation services and digital marketing campaigns.
Businesses can receive up to $8,000 toward trade shows. This can be designated for a booth at a qualifying in-person or virtual international trade show. If the company exhibits with the EDPNC at an international trade show, $3,000 of that amount can be used for airfare and lodging. Businesses can also use up to $8,000 for export services like translation of marketing materials, digital marketing efforts for international markets, international website localization, Ex-Im Bank export credit insurance, and U.S. Commercial Service offerings. Since its inception, more than 1,800 North Carolina small businesses have been helped by STEP funds.
Businesses can apply for 2023-2024 funding beginning September 30, 2023. Businesses interested in learning more or applying should visit edpnc.com/STEP.