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VT Agency receives $286K small biz exporting grant
MONTPELIER, Vt. - The State of Vermont received a $286,439 grant Monday to assist small businesses reach international markets.
The grant is awarded through the Small Business Administration's State Trade Expansion Program (STEP), a Federal-State partnership initiative, intended to increase the number of small businesses exporting and the value of exports by the small business sector.
The Department of Economic Development, a division of the Vermont Agency of Commerce and Community Development, will oversee and manage the grant. The funds are used to participate in foreign trade missions, export training and compliance, as well as company website upgrades to meet the international market.
"We are pleased the SBA has given us this vote of confidence by awarding this important grant to the Department of Economic Development. We are keen to continue to play a role to further the exports of the fine products and services of the small businesses of Vermont," said Joan Goldstein, Commissioner of Department of Economic Development.
STEP awards were created to advance key priorities identified in President Barack Obama's National Export Initiative, namely to expand the base of small businesses that become exporters and to make the exporting process as easy as possible for small businesses.
"Investment in small business exporting is paying dividends in foreign sales and economic development, which translates into a stronger economy and job creation," said SBA New England Regional Administrator Seth Goodall. "STEP will help Vermont small businesses sell local products and services in markets all over the world."
STEP complements SBA's export loan guaranty programs, which can finance the working capital needed to complete export orders and in turn help finance the expansion of production facilities due to export success. Loans are available up to $5 million.
It is the fifth time the State has been awarded a STEP grant and the largest sum the State has received. Since STEP was created in 2010, Vermont has received more than $1.2 million in grants and the SBA has guaranteed more than $13 million in export loans.
"This is the fifth year the SBA has awarded STEP grants and all five times the State has been selected. Year after year the Agency of Commerce and Community Development has crafted a robust plan explaining how they will use the funds to give Vermont a stronger competitive edge in the global market," said Darcy Carter, SBA Vermont District Director.
According to the International Trade Administration, in 2015 more than 1,200 Vermont companies sold $3.2 billion worth of goods outside of the U.S. The State's largest exporting markets in 2015 were Canada, Hong Kong, China, Malaysia and Mexico.