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$30 Million in SBA Grants to States to Help More Small Businesses Export

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$30 Million in SBA Grants to States to Help More Small Businesses Export

By Karen Mills, Former SBA Administrator
Published: September 30, 2011 Updated: March 2, 2014


This week, I visited Raleigh Denim, a small business in North Carolina. Inspired by a junior-high shop teacher who taught him to make things by hand, a young man named Victor and his wife Sarah started their business in their apartment.  They had the idea that there could be demand for a handcrafted, iconic American-made product like jeans.  They bought a cheap, old sewing machine and hired local people who knew – or could be taught – the old-fashioned ways of American textile manufacturing, an industry that I myself learned when working for my family’s business during college. 

Their plan worked.  They’ve grown to about 15 employees, they’ve sold thousands of pairs of jeans, and now they’re expanding into overseas markets in Asia, Europe, and elsewhere.  

Today, exporting is an important way for small business to scale up and create the jobs that America needs now.  That’s one of the reasons that the President signed into law the Small Business Jobs Act last year, which gave the SBA $30 million a year for three years to award to states.  They’re called State Trade Export Promotion (STEP) grants.

These STEP grants are a good example of how we’re working with state and local governments to support regional economic development.  In Raleigh, I was joined by North Carolina’s Governor Bev Perdue to make the announcement that these funds have gone out the door nationwide

North Carolina – home to about 7,000 small exporters – is receiving over $600,000 in STEP grant money to help small firms participate in trade shows, to help them go on trade missions abroad, and to promote their goods and services in foreign markets.  Some of these STEP grants are even going to help provide translation services for businesses that need a website in a different language.

Let’s keep supporting small businesses like Raleigh Denim that want to start or expanding their exporting operation.  That’s our commitment here at the SBA and throughout the Administration.  If you're intrerested in exporting, go to

Picture Caption: SBA Administrator Karen Mills (in blue suit) and North Carolina Governor Bev Purdue (in grey suit) with Raleigh Denim owners Sarah and Victor Lytvinenko (far left and far right)

About the Author:

Karen Mills

Former SBA Administrator

Karen Gordon Mills is the Former Administrator of the U.S. Small Business Administration. The SBA helps both Main Street and high-growth small businesses get access to capital, counseling, federal contracts, disaster assistance and more.


I had no idea you can still make money by making clothes in the United States. I thought that they were made overseas and brought here. That makes it even more inspiring.
Export growth needs to be a key element of all economic plans for small and larger sized businesses to encourage US economic growth and create jobs for us all.
Maybe the country should pay much attention to online business and offer support for them.
A wonderful success story and a great example of a thriving business managing to export it's products to foreign markets. A true inspiration to us all.
Yea, online business should be stimulated also. That's a new and very promising type of export and it can bring lots of benefits for our economy if we start developing it.
Stimulating export is a good thing, but what about online business? It brings the same benefits as export, in fact, it is a sort of export.
Is there any way to get a share of those 30 millions? I have business plan and I'm ready to provide any details that are necessary.
Interesting thoughts here. I appreciate you taking the time to share them with us all. It's people like you that make my day :)
Hi. I needed to drop you a quick note to impart my thanks. I've been following your blog for a month or so and have plucked up a heap of good information as well as relished the way you've structured your site. I am seeking to run my own blog however I think its too general and I would like to focus more on smaller topics. Brother CS6000i Computerized Sewing Machine
This is such a great news. I believe its more important to promote investment and financial education. Also it is solely important that government promotes alternative business opportunities. They should encourage people to do small businesses in addition to their other mainstream professions (if any). Specially in this time of high inflation rate and high unemployment rate, government needs to be very active on promoting additional investment opportunities.                                                                                                                                                                                                  Thanks                                                                                                                                                                                                                Shajid                                                                                                                                                                                                                   Takeshi Yashima: Investment and Financial Education Blog


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