Luz Hopewell is the Deputy Associate Administrator for the Office of International Trade at the U.S. Small Business Administration. Ms. Hopewell works to enhance the ability of small businesses...
STEP Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
Question:What is the State Trade and Export Promotion Program?
Answer:The State Trade and Export Promotion Program, authorized by the Small Business Jobs Act of 2010, is a 3-year pilot trade and export initiative to make matching-fund grants for states to assist 'eligible small business concerns,' enter and succeed in the international marketplace. The program's objectives are to increase the number of small businesses that are exporting, and to increase the value of exports for those small businesses that are currently exporting.
Question: Who manages the Program?
Answer: The STEP Program is managed at the national level by the U.S. Small Business Administration's Office of International Trade. However, at the state level, services are managed and provided by state government organizations. A listing of those organizations and points of contact is at http://www.sba.gov/about-offices-content/1/2889/resources/14315
Question:How much funding does the STEP Program have?
Answer:The STEP Program has total Federal funding of $60,000,000, for use over a two year period. Awards, totaling approximately $30,000,000, were made to states on September 27, 2011. (See Table I, below, for Federal funding, by state.) States will use these funds to provide assistance to small businesses from October 2011 through September 2012. The SBA expects to award another $30,000,000 in grants to states next year. Services under the next round of awards will be provided October 2012 through September 2013.
Question:How does the 'matching funds' requirement work in the STEP Program?
Answer:In most cases, the Federal government – SBA - provides 75% of monies required, and states provide 25%. For a few states having high export volume (California, New York, and Texas), SBA provides 65% of funding required, and the states provide 35%. To ensure maximum impact of funding, in any year, not more than 40% of Federal funds or $12,000,000, may be awarded to the ten states that have the highest number of small business exporters (California, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Michigan, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Texas).
Question:What services does the STEP Program Provide?
Answer:STEP services are locally designed to meet the specific international trade development needs of state and local small business communities. Therefore, they vary from state to state, and perhaps from one area to another within states. In general, services include support for participation in foreign trade missions, foreign market sales trips, subscription to services provided 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 Agency.
Question:How do small businesses obtain assistance under the STEP program?
Answer:Small businesses that want to receive assistance under the STEP Program should contact the organizations serving the states in which they are located. A listing of State STEP Program points of contact can be found at http://www.sba.gov/about-offices-content/1/2889/resources/14315.
Question:Can small businesses apply to SBA for funding under the Program?
Answer:No, only state entities can apply to SBA for funding under the STEP Program. But, states use SBA funds, and their own monies to provide assistance to small businesses. Interested small businesses should contact their state STEP Programs http://www.sba.gov/about-offices-content/1/2889/resources/14315.
Question:How were grants awarded under the Program?
Answer:On March 1, 2011, SBA issued Program Announcement No. OIT-STEP-2011-01, inviting states, the District of Columbia and U.S. Territories to submit applications to compete for grants to conduct project under the STEP program. The competition closed on May 10, 2011. SBA received Fifty-two applications, including submissions from forty-seven states, Puerto Rico, District of Columbia, Northern Mariana Islands, Guam, and Virgin Islands.
Question:What was the selection process?
Answer:Applications were subject to a two-tiered objective review process. The Tier I Review was an evaluation process conducted by a panel of experts from the international trade community. The Tier II Review was as technical analysis conducted by Agency program staff and budgetary analysis conducted by the Agency's grants management staff. As a result, the Agency confirmed the selection of successful applicants.
Question: Did all states that applied receive funding under Program?
Answer:To encourage state investment in small business export promotion, the Agency sought to provide some level of funding to all applicants. To address this need and to honor the competitive process, the Agency established individual funding levels with higher quality applications receiving greater percentages of initial requests than applications of lesser quality. The Agency ensured that all applications were in compliance with program requirements.
Question:When will new grant awards issued under the STEP Program?
Answer:The SBA anticipates that it will conduct a new competition for STEP Program grants during the winter of 2012. Awards will be made in September of 2012, for the provision of project services during September 2012 – September 2013.
Question:How can I receive more information?
Answer:Please visit the STEP website at sba.gov/STEP for continuous updates about the program and Federal and state contact information.
|District of Columbia||$548,116|
|Northern Mariana Islands||$1,022,781|