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SBA Boosts Minnesota’s Small Business Export Opportunities with $144,750 STEP AWARD

Nationally, $18 Million Set to Promote Small Business Global Trade
Release Date: 
Thursday, September 27, 2018
Release Number: 
Sarah Swenty,, 612-370-2316

Minneapolis – The U.S. Small Business Administration announced that $18 million in funding has been awarded to 47 State international trade agencies through SBA’s competitive State Trade Expansion Program (STEP), to support export growth among U.S. small businesses. Minnesota was awarded $144,750 that will be administered through the Minnesota Trade Office at the Department of Employment and Economic Development. This grant will be used to support various small and medium businesses with their participation in foreign trade shows to increase their export sales and build relationships internationally.

“SBA programs like STEP are important resources for America’s small businesses and entrepreneurs to expand into international markets,” said SBA Region V Administrator Rob Scott. “More than three quarters of the world’s purchasing powers is outside of the United States. By tapping into global markets, small businesses are able to grow faster and are more likely to stay in business.”

“The Minnesota Trade Office provides the training and expertise that small and medium-sized companies need to export goods and services successfully worldwide,” said Gabrielle Gerbaud, chief protocol officer and executive director of the Minnesota Trade Office. “Programs like STEP allow Minnesota to continually improve our state’s export market, which accounts for more than $20 billion in revenue annually and 118,000 jobs statewide.”

STEP is designed to meet three distinctive goals in Minnesota: to increase the number of small businesses that export, to increase the value of exports for small businesses, and to increase the number of small businesses that explore significant new trade opportunities.  Expanding the base of small business exporters and making the process as easy as possible is a key component of the Administration’s small business strategy.

“STEP, as well as SBA’s other export resources, including loans and U.S. Export Assistance Centers, ensure local resources are available to make global markets more accessible, removing barriers to market entry. By funding Minnesota and its export development partners, SBA is delivering the tools and resources required for small businesses in our state to build relationships and launch their services and products abroad,” said Nancy Libersky, SBA’s Minnesota district director.

Since the beginning of the STEP program seven years ago, approximately $138 million in grants have been awarded to fund export opportunities and increase the footprint of small businesses in countries all over the world. 

The 2018 STEP awards will allow states to assist small businesses with the information and tools they need to succeed in export-related activities that are in line with the objectives of the program. These objectives include participation in foreign trade missions, foreign market sales trips, services provided by the U.S. Department of Commerce, as well as design of international marketing campaigns, export trade show exhibits, training workshops and more.

STEP awards are managed and provided at the local level by state government organizations. The program is managed at the national level by the U.S. Small Business Administration’s Office of International Trade.


About the U.S. Small Business Administration

The U.S. Small Business Administration makes the American dream of business ownership a reality. As the only go-to resource and voice for small businesses backed by the strength of the federal government, the SBA empowers entrepreneurs and small business owners with the resources and support they need to start, grow or expand their businesses, or recover from a declared disaster. It delivers services through an extensive network of SBA field offices and partnerships with public and private organizations. To learn more, visit

About the Minnesota Trade Office

The Minnesota Trade Office provides export assistance to Minnesota's manufacturers and service providers. Programs and services focus primarily on assisting small and medium-sized companies. The MTO also serves as Minnesota's Office of Protocol, ensuring that the state's interactions with foreign delegations and dignitaries are conducted with appropriate diplomatic etiquette and cultural practices. We are also the state's liaison to the local diplomatic community - the Minnesota Consular Corps.