State Trade and Export Promotion (STEP) Program Fact Sheet

The State Trade and Export Promotion Program (STEP) is a 3-year pilot trade and export initiative authorized by the Small Business Jobs Act of 2010. Funded by federal grants and matching funds from the states, the STEP Program is designed to help increase the number of small businesses that are exporting and to raise the value of exports for those small businesses that are currently exporting.

How STEP Grants Will Help Small businesses:

The STEP grants will help provide:

  • support for small business participation in foreign trade missions and foreign market sales trips;
  • subscription to services by the Department of Commerce;
  • website translation fees;
  • design of international marketing media;
  • trade show exhibitions;
  • participation in training workshops; and
  • other export initiatives determined to be appropriate by the SBA.


All 50 States, Washington D.C. and U.S. Territories were invited to apply for STEP grant awards.

Forty-seven states, Puerto Rico, District of Columbia, Northern Mariana Islands, Guam, and the U.S. Virgin Islands won a STEP grant award. All states and territories that submitted their applications on time received STEP grants.

Through the STEP grants, SBA awarded approximately $30,000,000, supporting approximately $43,400,000 of total projects costs.SBA is authorized to grant up to $30 million to States each year under the program.

Federal Funding
by State



Federal Funding


Federal Funding



















 New Hampshire




 New Mexico




 New York




 North Carolina


 District of Columbia


 Northern Mariana Islands




















 Puerto Rico




 Rhode Island




 South Carolina




 South Dakota




















 Virgin Islands




















Alabama:The project will educate small companies on how to export and use state and Federal resources in finding overseas markets, facilitate direct export sales, and build sustainable support for small business exporting. It will provide opportunities for small businesses to develop export opportunities in China, Poland, and Hungary. 

Alaska: The project will focus on seafood, wood products, and mineral export sectors. Activities will include trade missions and trade shows, marketing opportunities and mentorships, and translation services. Target markets include Japan, China, South Korea, Canada, Switzerland, Germany, Spain, Netherlands, Australia, and Belgium.

Arizona: The project will provide export readiness assessment and access to export services for small businesses including translation of marketing materials, identification and qualification of potential investors in foreign markets, and U.S. Commercial Service assistance in finding overseas agents, distributors, sales representatives, and business partners.

Arkansas: The project’s goal is to sharply increase state exports, especially to China and Southeast Asia. The project will reach out to small business owners and agricultural producers to educate them about the potential for growth through exports and help them identify new global markets for expansion, and to enter those markets.

California: The project will conduct about twenty unique export promotion activities including domestic and market-focused marketing campaigns, customized product/promotion localization assistance, matchmaking services connecting small businesses to potential customers, and follow up support to assist firms in closing deals.  

Colorado: The project will support job creation and retention through small business export development by increasing by 25% ,the number of small and medium-sized enterprises exporting, and by 10%, the value of exports by SMEs. The program will increase outreach efforts, and partner with agencies statewide to identify SMEs with export potential.

Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands: The project will focus on developing small business export acumen, providing venues for small businesses to develop foreign trade networks, solidifying lines of services to export markets, and developing and marketing a “Made in the Marianas” brand for exports. The program will encourage firms to engage in trade shows, exhibitions, and sales trips.

Connecticut:The project will provide access to technical assistance programs, promote participation in an innovation and trade summit, increase participation in trade shows, and expand business-to-business opportunities for small exporters. Focusing on aerospace, defense, precision machining, and medical devices sectors, the project will support small business participation in expositions in Tokyo, Japan and Hannover, Germany.

Delaware: The project’s key activities will assist small firms enter specific markets, especially China and Brazil, and will include awareness forum/informational briefings, business evaluation/product review, country and business culture orientation, pre-trade mission orientation,  and international trade mission/trade show and exhibit/trade sales.

District of Columbia: The project will develop at least three export markets, organizing trade missions and assisting about 100 small businesses to become export ready.Participating businesses will attend trade shows and trade missions to foreign countries.

Florida: The project will focus on market diversification by conducting trade missions and trade shows in emerging markets and providing grants to small and medium-sized enterprises to participate in new overseas trade shows.  It will also offer new-to-export assistance to small businesses across the state.

Georgia: The project will conduct an outreach campaign, create an exporter’s directory, increase rural engagement in exporting, identify export management and export trading companies for match-making, support participation in foreign trade shows, provide market research, organize incoming foreign buyers’ delegations, and pilot a China market entry assistance initiative.

Guam: The project will help small firms participate in foreign trade missions, enabling them to meet government decision-makers and potential agents, distributors, and partners; host the Guam Export Trade Show with representatives from foreign businesses; and develop a website to inform and update interested parties.

Hawaii: The project will ensure that small businesses are prepared for exporting, and provide them with a menu of activities to generate new export sales from key industry sectors, targeting the China market. It will increase ability of small businesses to develop marketing plans for international trade and provide opportunities for small businesses to participate in trade shows.

Idaho: The program will award grants to small businesses to generate export sales opportunities, encourage participation in trade missions, and help companies explore new markets. It will support travel to trade missions, trade shows, and matchmaking events; participation in seminars and educational events; translation of marketing materials; and market research.

Illinois: The project has targeted three key objectives: expansion in the number of small businesses recruited to receive export assistance; direct growth in dollar value of export sales for Illinois small businesses through high-impact financial and technical assistance at sector-specific tradeshows; and direct growth in dollar value of export sales through high-impact financial and technical assistance, key market research, overseas match-making, and agent/distributor searches.

Indiana: The project will reach out to small businesses that have an interest in increasing their exports, leverage Department of Commerce’s access and services, support match-making processes to select small businesses that fit industry and exporting requirements, and fund small businesses’ trade mission travel costs.

Iowa:The project will focus on small businesses, rural businesses, and businesses owned and/or led by persons who historically have been under-represented in the community of owner/exporters.  It will provide 20 - 30 firms opportunity to exhibit in an international trade show held in the United States, and participate in an international buyers program or mission.

Kansas: The project will focus on agriculture and will link Kansas producers with foreign markets through trade missions in Germany and India, and trade shows in Russia, China, and Costa Rica.  First time exporters will attend trade shows and build contacts from these countries for future exporting.

Kentucky: The project will help Kentucky’s trade organizations better promote the value of exporting by reaching more small businesses and providing them with export orientation, indepth, information and concrete opportunities. Companies will receive assistance with market research, travel expenses, trade show expenditures, materials and website translation, and other costs associated with developing international markets.

Louisiana: The project will identify, qualify, train, prepare and assist small businesses to increase export readiness and expand exports.  Firms will receive company-tailored and market-specific individual export preparation counseling for participation in trade missions, reverse trade missions, and domestic and international trade shows and exhibitions.

Maine: The project will provide direct technical support and enhanced outreach to small business exposure to increase engagement in international trade. It will serve Maine’s small businesses community by improving technology resources and services, increasing access to overseas trade events, and strengthening awareness of international trade opportunities and available resources.

Maryland: The project will leverage and bolster Maryland’s Export  Initiative  to promote closer collaboration among local international trade resource partners, and to increase the number of small and medium-sized businesses participating in trade shows and missions. 

Massachusetts: The project will emphasize small business participation in both the leading export sectors in Massachusetts (biotechnology and medical devices, clean energy, digital industries, and advanced manufacturing), and high-priority markets such as China, India, Israel, Brazil, and Western Europe.

Michigan: The project will support small business participation in trade shows and trade missions in China, Spain, and Germany. It will coordinate, integrate, and expand services currently provided by the state and Federal programs with services delivered by regional and local service providers – government, business, academic and non-profit organizations.

Minnesota: The project will assist small businesses in exporting to major markets in Asia, Europe, and the Middle East, by organizing and subsidizing participation in trade missions, trade shows, and use of services offered by the U.S. Commercial Service. It will address the developmental needs of new-to-export companies, as well as new-to-market companies.

Mississippi: The project provides for identification and qualification of viable firms, comprehensive export awareness and readiness initiative, and a targeted geographic marketing program in Canada, Latin America, Europe, Middle East, and Asia. It will also establish a Greater China Marketing Initiative for Softwood Promotion and Market Development.

Missouri: The project will support reverse trade missions from China, Mexico, and Korea,  markets important to Missouri’s agricultural sector, which is comprised of livestock, forestry products, grains, food processing, and wine beverages. 

Montana: The project will help small firms enter the international market by mitigating risk by subscription to relevant U.S. Commercial Service trade contact and research services, preparation of marketing materials in foreign languages, and provision of access to trade shows and events enabling them to introduce their products and services to new markets. 

Nebraska: The program will conduct a reverse trade mission for foreign CEOs to see Nebraska business opportunities and resources and lead a trade mission to China. It will also expand the services of the Nebraska Center – Tokyo, focusing on export of food, machinery, and energy.

Nevada: The project will promote value of exports to the economy and job creation, and engage small businesses in considering exporting. It will also launch a “New Market Access Program,” and conduct a state-directed trade show and outbound trade mission. Possible options include a trade show/outbound mission to China for aeronautical parts and services, and an outbound mission to Brazil for analytic equipment and consumer electronics. 

New Hampshire: The program will provide direct to market opportunities for small businesses,  focusing on growth markets, including China and India, and on industries that have the highest and most immediate potential to compete successfully in the world marketplace,  especially the aerospace and defense cluster.

New Mexico: The project will assist small companies navigate linguistic, cultural, and structural foreign barriers to trade.  It will conduct trade missions to China (Hong Kong, Shanghai and Beijing), Argentina, Brazil, Chile and Germany.

New York: The project will increase small business exports to Chinese and Korean markets. Target sectors will include wine and foods, music, fashion design, medical-bio technologies, jewelry, cleantech, mining equipment and technologies, and consulting engineering. Trade event activities will include multi-industry trade promotion events, and industry-specific efforts.

North Carolina: The project will fund small business travel to overseas markets and attendance at foreign trade shows, based upon best opportunities and best overseas markets for the states’ firms. It will also translate vendor websites into target market languages.

Ohio: The project will promote products directly in international markets by participation in export market visits or trade missions to China, Germany, India, South Africa, and Southeast Asia. It will also support market research, international marketing, and foreign language translation services.

Oklahoma: The project will develop a comprehensive database of Oklahoma small, small disadvantaged, and rural businesses that are exporting; establish an incentive program to encourage small businesses to export; connect small businesses with appropriate support services; and link small firms to new markets through participation in tradeshows or trade missions. 

Oregon: The project will subsidize small business participation in international trade shows, trade missions, and reverse trade missions.  It will arrange exhibit space, support use of U.S. Department of Commerce services; provide market research and agent/distributor search; and facilitate meetings and introductions in Japan, China, Korea, and the European Union.

Pennsylvania: The project provides for small business participation in international and domestic trade shows and missions. Target industries include food, energy, medical devices, and wood/building. Target markets include Taiwan, United Arab Emirates, Brazil, Canada, Israel, Japan, Chile, Germany, Korea, India, and China. 

Puerto Rico: The project will focus on resources for the construction industry, and support foreign market sales trips to trade show exhibitions in countries that have aggressively outsourced strategic requirements. It will also create a website available in Spanish, English, French, Portuguese and Mandarin, enabling buyers to access relevant information.

Rhode Island: The project will assist small firms identify target markets. It will target emerging markets such as Israel, Dominican Republic, Brazil, India, Vietnam, Indonesia, and Saudi Arabia.  Target industries include medical technology, metal manufacturing, computer and software technology, plastics, textiles, energy, and infrastructure.

South Carolina: The project will serve potential small business exporters, firms that have exported but with limited success, and those that have worked with the Export Assistance Center or other resource partner. It will provide support to such firms that will include market research, travel to international marketplaces, interpretation.

South Dakota: The project will focus on the rural agricultural and manufacturing small businesses, supporting export workshops, promoting online programs of  US Food Export Midwest, participate in international trade missions with the Midwest Governors Association, and develop an international trade workgroup in South Dakota.

Tennessee: The project will provide small businesses with tools necessary to enter new export markets and expand existing export markets, deploying an informational website, promoting the medical equipment manufacturing industry through trade mission to China and Japan and marketing efforts to other key markets.

Texas: The program will develop small business opportunities in three targeted markets – Peoples Republic of China, United Arab Emirates, and Republic of Korea - to expand the market for Texas agricultural products. 

Utah: The project will focus on new-to-export and new-to-market companies, conducting outreach and translating marketing materials and websites into Chinese and Spanish. It will concentrate on trade opportunities in Asia, Latin America, Canada, and Europe, supporting small business participation in trade missions typically organized by the U.S. Commercial Service.   

Vermont: The project will prioritize small business exports in precision manufacturing, aeronautics and aerospace, and specialty foods industries.  It will support foreign trade missions, services provided by the U.S. Commercial Service, coordinated trade show exhibitions, projects that increase direct and indirect supply chain exporting; and reverse trade missions. 

Virginia: The project will focus on key industries and markets based on Virginia’s export profile. The primary targeted industries are information technology, energy and advanced manufacturing. For information technology and targeted markets include the Eurozone. For energy, target markets include the Scandinavian region.

Virgin Islands: The project will create an export trade and foreign direct investment program, providing technical support leveraging the services and infrastructure of existing partners and networks, increasing exports promotion efforts, building new markets through cooperation and collaboration, and integrating trade policies into the economic development agenda.

Washington: The project provides an integrated strategy of new activities to increase exports, focusing on new-to-market opportunities in China. It will target significant assistance to rural small businesses, and support small business participation in trade shows and missions, translation of marketing materials, and international certification for products.

Wisconsin: The project will provide focused support to small- and mid-sized firms, especially rural and women/minority/veteran-owned businesses, through a business mission to India. The objective of the mission is to assist firms that have successfully initiated a strategic export marketing campaign to expand their sales activities to India.

Wyoming: The project will assist small businesses new to exporting by conducting workshops, on-line webinars, and face-to-face roundtables. It will use existing exporters to mentors to new to export companies. The project will also support small business participation in a trade mission led by U.S. Wheat Associates.


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