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SBA’s $1.35 Million STEP Award Boosts Export Opportunities for Michigan’s Small Businesses

Nationally, $19 Million Awarded to Help Small Businesses Enter and Compete in the Global Marketplace
Release Date: 
Friday, October 2, 2020
Constance Logan,

DETROIT– Michigan small businesses have access to $1.35 million in funding from the U.S. Small Business Administration’s State Trade Expansion Program to help them expand with exporting opportunities. In all, the SBA has awarded $19 million to 48 state and territory international trade agencies through its competitive STEP effort to support export growth among U.S. small businesses. Here in Michigan the STEP award will support various small business exporting activities to help make “Made in Michigan” more internationally known.

“SBA’s STEP has been a critical resource for states to help their small businesses and entrepreneurs expand into international markets,” SBA Great Lakes Regional Administrator Rob Scott said. “This is important because small businesses that export can grow revenue, contributing to a higher likelihood of them staying in business and strengthening local economies with job creation, especially in challenging times like this, as 95% of the world’s consumers are beyond U.S. borders.”

STEP is designed to assist Michigan with increasing the number of small businesses that export and the value of those exports. Since its creation in 2010 as part of the Small Business Jobs Act, STEP has recorded over $3.8 billion in exports and awarded approximately $176 million in grants to fund export opportunities, increasing the footprint of American small businesses in countries worldwide. Michigan has received more than $9.6 million in STEP awards over the program’s 10-year existence.

“STEP and SBA’s other export resources, including SBA-backed loans and local U.S. Export Assistance Centers, help remove barriers to market entry for small businesses,” said SBA Michigan District Director Constance Logan. “By supporting Michigan’s international trade efforts, the SBA is delivering tools to help small business owners export their services and products abroad.” 

Over the past 10 years, Michigan small businesses have flourished with STEP award assistance. Grand Rapids-based Firstronic tapped multiple STEP awards to increase exports to Canada, China, Costa Rica, Hungary and other European countries. Firstronic now attributes 70% of its revenue to exporting and has retained/created more than 150 jobs with these efforts. Further, Clinton-based Hardwoods of Michigan used a STEP award to expand exports into China and Portland Products significantly increased its sales by using STEP awards to attend a trade mission, sales trip and two trade shows in Mexico.

Similarly, the 2020 STEP awards will allow Michigan to assist small businesses with the information and tools they need to succeed in export-related activities in line with the program objectives. 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.

“Michigan is proud to once again be recognized for its successes in administering critical STEP funding to small businesses, having received the top award in the nation of $1.35 million for STEP Year 9,” said STEP State Director of International Trade  Alyssa Tracey. “At the conclusion of the most recent, fully completed STEP grant cycle, the Michigan International Trade Program supported 315 businesses, resulting in $468 million in export sales and helping to create more than 2,000 Michigan jobs,” added Tracey.

Individual STEP awards are managed at the local level by state government organizations. SBA’s Office of International Trade administers the STEP awards at the national level and its guide to exporting offers more information on STEP and other small business resources for 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