Washington state receives $2 million SBA grant to boost small business exports

  • September 1, 2021

Nearly $760 million in sales attributed to State Trade Expansion Program (STEP) since inception

OLYMPIA, WA – The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) has awarded the Washington State Department of Commerce a tenth year of funding to help small businesses grow through exporting. The $2 million grant is part of the SBA’s State Trade Expansion Program (STEP).

Commerce will use the funds to continue a number of successful export assistance programs for small businesses including export vouchers, support for industry focused virtual and in-person trade shows, trade missions, inbound buyer events and export training. Businesses can also use the funding to increase their online presence through website development for international audiences and e-commerce. See a complete list of eligible expenses here.

More than 1032 unique small businesses around the state have benefited from STEP-funded support since the program’s inception through the Small Business Jobs Act of 2010. They have achieved nearly $760 million in sales, creating an estimated return on investment of nearly 100:1.

Washington state’s program is consistently a model of success among all states. This year’s funding is once again the maximum amount awarded by SBA – one of only two $2 million state grants.

With the increase in funding, Commerce will be supporting over 30 trade shows and missions this next year focusing on sectors such as medical devices, life science, aerospace, clean tech, maritime, defense, food tech, Internet of Things (IoT), electronics, composites, advanced manufacturing, artificial intelligence and many more. In addition to Commerce-led trade shows and missions, companies can take advantage of the Commerce’s newly-expanded global consultant network in key markets and the export voucher program to offset the cost of conducting business internationally.

“Exporting remains a significant opportunity for small businesses all over Washington state that are looking to grow by tapping new consumers and markets worldwide,” said Commerce Director Lisa Brown. “This STEP funding allows us to continue supporting companies that may otherwise not have the resources to develop relationships and navigate the complexities of selling their goods and services overseas, especially in today’s challenging trade environment.”

“The STEP grant we received was absolutely instrumental in increasing product sales by having our products translated to the native languages so that we could further expand into France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands and Spain. This program is terrific for small businesses like ours,” said Alan Blackford, COO at Culinary Woodcraft LLC.

“The STEP program was very helpful to our company. The support we got through the STEP Export Voucher program opened up doors in five African countries,” said Ivan Lumala, COO of Tellistic Technology Services, an IT company specializing in providing technology consulting, software development, data analytics and AI solutions for the digital era. Tellistic Technology used the STEP program to cover an international business trip and to refresh their marketing media for new market sales.

For information about STEP export vouchers and other small business export assistance, contact Nicole Gunkle at Nicole.gunkle@commerce.wa.gov. To learn more about other programs at Commerce that help businesses grow, expand and locate in Washington state, please visit www.choosewashingtonstate.com. .

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