Washington state receives $1.4 million SBA grant to boost small business exports

More than $562 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 state small businesses grow through exporting. The $1.4 million grant to Washington, part of the SBA’s State Trade Expansion Program (STEP), is one of the two largest awarded from a total $20 million to 52 states and territory international trade agencies – Michigan also received $1.4 million.

Photo of plenary session speakers at US-Korea Trade Conference

(l-r) Seattle Mayor Bruce Harrell, Washington State Rep. Cindy Ryu, US SBA Administrator Isabelle Casillas Guzman, Seattle Port Commissioner Sam Cho, Washington Commerce Director Lisa Brown and Ambassador of South Korea to the US Cho Tae-yong spoke during the morning plenary session at an SBA-sponsored conference on export opportunities in US-Korea trade in Seattle.

SBA Administrator Isabelle Casillas Guzman made the announcement this morning in Seattle at the opening of a conference focused on promoting small business export and e-commerce opportunities with Korea.

Commerce will use the new STEP grant funds to continue a number of successful export assistance programs for small businesses including export vouchers, support for industry focused trade shows and trade missions, inbound buyer events and export training.

More than 1,223 unique small businesses around the state have benefited from STEP-funded support since the program’s inception under the Small Business Jobs Act of 2010. They have achieved over $562 million in sales, creating an estimated return on investment of nearly 52:1.

In the coming year, Commerce will be supporting over 20 trade shows and missions focusing on sectors such as medical devices, life science, aerospace, defense, foodtech, the 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 global consultants situated in key markets to provide market access support and the export voucher program to offset the cost of conducting business internationally.

Photo of US SBA Administrator Isabelle Casillas Guzman and Lisa Brown in Seattle Sept. 2022

Isabelle Casillas Guzman, US Small Business Administration (SBA) Administrator (left), and Commerce Director Lisa Brown at Seattle press conference announcing a $1.4 million State Trade Expansion Program (STEP) grant to Washington state benefitting small businesses seeking to grow through exporting and international trade.

Through exporting, companies not only grow their business but also build international relationships and create jobs that strengthen communities throughout Washington state,” said Commerce Director Lisa Brown. “As the most trade-centered state in the US, STEP funding is one of the most effective tools we have to provide opportunities for businesses seeking to enter global markets and expand.”

Also speaking at the Korea-US exporting conference today, Brown announced a new Commerce program “Go Global,” offering vouchers and connections for small businesses to upgrade or create websites optimized for e-commerce. More details on the new program will be released soon.

“Thanks to the STEP grant, Taqtile was able to join the Washington State delegations to the Dubai Air Show 2021, MRO Europe 2021 and the Farnborough Air Show 2022. During these events, and with the support from Commerce and their local consultants, we were introduced to key businesses interested in our AR platform, Manifest®. The STEP grant is definitely an amazing tool for small businesses to reach new international markets, especially during these challenging couple of years,” said John Mathieu, Managing Director, Taqtile.

“Attending the MEDICA trade show in November of last year was a significant step for me as a first-time exhibitor. I learned a lot and I took that knowledge and applied it to the ARAB Health event. That led to a verbal agreement with one of the participating companies for a partnership. I strongly believe that the STEP voucher program is the best way for small businesses to get exposed to new international markets,” said Hakan Yilmaz, President, MedikEquip.

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


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