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Washington State Department of Commerce Recipient of SBA Grant to Expand Small Business Exporting

SBA Awards $1.35 Million to Washington State Department of Commerce, $19 Million Nationally as Part of FY 2020 State Trade Expansion Program (STEP) Awards
Release Date: 
Monday, September 28, 2020
Contact: | 206-604-2957

SEATTLE The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) announces today that $1.35 million has been awarded to the Washington State Department of Commerce to support export growth among small businesses through SBA’s competitive State Trade Expansion Program (STEP).

The Washington State Department of Commerce is among 48 state agencies to successfully compete for $19 million in grants. Washington is one of two states to receive a STEP award above the $1 million mark.

"Nearly 96% of consumers live outside the U.S. and two-thirds of the world’s purchasing power is in foreign countries, which equals substantial growth opportunity for small businesses interested in exporting," SBA Pacific Northwest Regional Administrator Jeremy Field said. "The costs involved to attend international trade shows or take other steps toward connecting with foreign businesses can be prohibitive to small firms. Programs like STEP open the door for small businesses to expand and succeed on a global scale."

The 2020 STEP awards will provide the Washington State Department of Commerce with resources to assist local small businesses by accessing the information and tools they need to succeed in export-related activities. STEP awards help fund exporting activities, such as participating in foreign trade missions and foreign market sales trips, obtaining services provided by the U.S. Department of Commerce, accessing expertise in designing international marketing campaigns and export trade show exhibits, participating in training workshops, among other uses.

For example, Pacific Valley Foods in Bellevue, Washington – which distributes U.S. foods to international restaurants and hotels, retail grocery stores and manufacturers – used STEP funding to finance their participation in an Indonesian food trade show to expand the international markets in which they do business. Combined with guidance from an export adviser at the Washington Small Business Development Center, the firm is now a multi-million-dollar company, exporting to more than 25 countries, with an estimated 95% of their total sales being international.

“One in three jobs in Washington depend on international trade. We are pleased to receive this new funding which is essential for us to continue helping small businesses grow through exporting and support a broad-based economic recovery in communities throughout the state,” said Washington State Department of Commerce Director Lisa Brown. “The STEP program provides support to companies who might otherwise not have the resources to develop relationships and navigate the complexities of selling their goods and services overseas, especially in today’s challenging trade environment.” 

The opportunities for small businesses to grow by exporting are substantial, especially during this unprecedented time.  The COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in a paradigm shift to increased web-based sales and virtual trade missions to reach the world’s consumers located outside the United States. Exporting is an important way for U.S. businesses to grow revenue and diversify their customer base.

STEP is designed to help small businesses take advantage of these opportunities by increasing the number of small businesses that export, the value of their exports and the number of small businesses that explore significant new trade opportunities.  Expanding the base of small business exporters and streamlining the process is a key component of the Administration’s small business strategy. Since the creation of the STEP program 10 years ago, the SBA has awarded approximately $157 million in grants to fund export opportunities to increase the footprint of small businesses in countries all over the world. 

“The SBA is committed to assisting small businesses to enter and prosper in the global marketplace,” said Loretta Greene, Associate Administrator for SBA’s Office of International Trade. “Through SBA’s STEP awards, states provide small businesses with the critical funding they need to thrive internationally while creating jobs and strengthening their communities.”

STEP awards are managed and provided at the local level by state government organizations. The program is managed at the national level by the SBA’s Office of International Trade (OIT). For more information about STEP and other export resources provided by the SBA, visit the SBA business guide to exporting products



About the SBA Office of International Trade

As the U.S. Small Business Administration’s office for the support of small business international trade development, the Office of International Trade works in cooperation with other federal agencies and public and private-sector groups to encourage small business exports and to assist small businesses seeking to export. Through 21 U.S. Export Assistance Centers, SBA district offices and a variety of service-provider partners, we direct and coordinate SBA’s ongoing export initiatives in an effort to encourage small businesses going global.


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 The Seattle District serves Washington state and northern Idaho with office locations in Seattle and Spokane.