Washington State receives second highest SBA grant for boosting small business exports

State is top performer with $136 million in sales attributed to State Trade and Export Promotion (STEP) program since inception

The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) has awarded the Washington State Department of Commerce a third year of federal funding to help state small businesses grow through exporting. The $494,200 grant, part of the SBA’s State Trade and Export Promotion (STEP) program, is the second largest state award from a total of $8 million nationwide and continues the successful programs offered through Commerce’s International Trade unit.

Commerce will use the funds to support small businesses with activities such as export vouchers, trade show support, rural outreach and training, and export finance training. In addition, Washington will emphasize assistance for new-to-export businesses and the targeted outreach to women, minority, and veteran-owned small businesses.

More than 445 small businesses from around the state have benefited from the first two years of STEP-funded support, achieving $136 million in sales, making Washington number one among all states participating in the program.

“Small business exports are an important asset to Washington’s economy. I’m excited for this opportunity,” said Governor Jay Inslee. “We know most of our job creation and innovation comes from small businesses, and as a leading hub of international trade this funding will help us build on the successes of the past couple of years.”

“This new investment will give more Washington small businesses the tools they need to increase exports and create jobs across our state,” said Sen. Maria Cantwell, Chairwoman of the U.S. Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship. “The STEP initiative has helped to grow small business exports, generating a 50-to-1 return on investment for Washington state’s economy. This investment will help allow more Washington entrepreneurs to reach new markets and grow our state’s trade economy.”
“With one in three jobs in our state related to international trade, and an estimated 80 percent of global economic activity expected to come from outside the U.S. over the next five years, programs like STEP help Washington small businesses seize opportunities to grow through exporting,” said Commerce Director Brian Bonlender.
Participation and results from STEP activities are on target to generate a potential return on investment of more than $135 for every $1 of STEP funds, Bonlender said.

According to Peter Hamilton, Chief Marketing Officer for Has Offers, “The Export Voucher program was a dream come true in both timing and value.  Has Offers needed to get its latest product in the hands of some of the world’s best known mobile ad networks and agencies, and STEP allowed our team to do just that. By sending us to Mobile World Congress, STEP gave us the opportunity to book meetings with these key players in a quickly emerging industry and discover new emerging technology partners we might not have found otherwise.”  As a result of STEP Has Offers is now doing 40% of its business internationally and it grew from 50 employees in early 2012 to 190 today.

The STEP Program is a pilot Federal-state partnership initiative, intended to increase the number of small businesses that export and the value of exports by the small business sector. The Program was authorized by the Small Business Jobs Act of 2010, funded at $30 million per year for the first two rounds, and $8 million for the third round. Under it, competitive awards can be made to the 50 states, District of Columbia, Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, Virgin Islands, Guam, American Samoa and the Commonwealth of Northern Mariana Islands.

For information about STEP in Washington State or other Commerce programs that help Washington businesses grow, expand and locate, please visit ChooseWashington.com.


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