SBA STEPping Up to Help Montana Businesses Export

SBA STEPping Up to Help Montana Businesses Export

Did you know 95% of the world’s consumers live outside of the United States?  That is why it’s so important for small businesses to explore the opportunity of exporting their product(s) and/or continuing to expand their existing global markets.  Exporting helps bring new revenue into Montana which helps our business community sustain and grow, supports other local businesses and creates good local jobs.

In 2011, Montana businesses exported $2.46 billion worth of products and services to countries like Canada, Republic of Korea, Mexico, China, Japan and many more. 

The President has a goal to double U.S. exports and give America a stronger competitive edge in the global market. To build on this goal, as authorized under the Small Business Jobs Act of 2010, the U.S. Small Business Administration initiated a pilot grant program called the STEP (State Trade and Export Promotion) Program.  This program, administered by the Montana Department of Commerce, aims to increase the value of exports for those small businesses that are currently exporting.

JM Grain, of Great Falls, is one of the many companies that have taken advantage of this program in Montana.  JM Grain has 13 employees and currently processes and exports lentils, green and yellow dry peas, and chickpeas around the world.. 

JM Grain used the STEP program to attend the Gulfood Trade Show in Dubai, UAE where they were able to make sales with six new buyers, accounting for an estimated $600,000 in additional export sales over the next 12 months.  That’s right $600,000 in new sales!

In addition to the new sales, a new opportunity became possible due to a request made at the show regarding the UAE market that may hold promise for a branded product in retail size packages.  JM Grain has not offered retail packaging before, but currently is exploring the idea.

With a small investment from the U.S. Small Business Administration, via Montana Department of Commerce, JM Grain was able to take advantage of a new market and significantly increase their sales; creating a positive economic domino effect that helps the community, employees and other local businesses.