By Cassius Butts, Regional Administrator
With almost 95 percent of world consumers outside America's borders, exporting is an important way for small business to scale up and create the jobs that America needs now. Now, more than ever before, small business owners can access these overseas markets with the click of a button thanks to globalization, Internet communications and export finance programs made more simple and easy to use by the Obama Administration.
Many U.S. businesses have already strategically connected to new foreign market opportunities. In fact, according to the Census Bureau, U.S. exports are up 33 percent since 2009. The number of companies exporting is up 6 percent to almost 300,000. These firms have found innovative ways to bring a product or service to new markets.
The U.S. Small Business Administration’s many programs and initiatives help small business owners take advantage of opportunities in new emerging markets so they can grow and create jobs. So far this year, SBA has guaranteed over 1100 export loans for over $1 billion.
Our Export Express, International Trade Loan Program and Export Working Capital programs support small businesses looking to export the capital they need to take the next step in growth. And our State Trade Export Promotion (STEP) program coordinates the activities of state export offices with those of the federal government through efforts such as training to get small businesses “export ready” and small business oriented trade missions. Last month, SBA announced the STEP fund recipients for 2012, providing awards to states totaling approximately $30 million.
The SBA Export Express allows for financing of up to $500,000 and the simplest export loan product we offer, allowing participating lenders to use their own forms, procedures and analyses. The SBA provides an answer in 36 hours or less.
Our International Trade Loan provides small businesses with enhanced export financing options for their export transactions. The ITL is designed to help small businesses enter and expand into international markets and, when adversely affected by import competition, make the investments necessary to better compete.
Some small businesses may lack necessary export working capital to support their export sales. That is where SBA’s Export Working Capital program can make the difference. SBA provides lenders with up to a 90 percent guaranty on export loans as a credit enhancement, so that the lenders will make the necessary available.
In addition, there are twenty regional U.S. Export Assistance Centers located throughout the nation. They are staffed by export finance, regulation, and trade specialists from the SBA, Department of Commerce, U.S. Export-Import Bank and other public and private organizations. Together, their mission is to provide a one-stop export shop designed to assist small business.
It is a firm belief of SBA and the Obama Administration that supporting small businesses who are exporting to foreign markets is essential to continuing the recovery. By opening new markets to American goods, more small businesses can compete and win in our increasingly connected 21st century world economy.