The U.S. Small Business Administration announced Tuesday that $18 million in funding has been awarded to 44 state international trade agencies through SBA’s competitive State Trade Expansion Program, STEP, to support export growth among U.S. small businesses.
Of the 44 state and territorial agencies, the CNMI Department of Commerce was awarded $142,000 in STEP grant funds.
STEP is designed to increase both the number of small businesses that begin to export and the value of exports for small businesses currently exporting.
Expanding the base of small business exporters and making the process as easy as possible is a key component of the Trump administration’s small business strategy.
“The awards will provide a solid foundation for small businesses planning to enter and set them up for success,” SBA administrator Linda McMahon said.
Commerce Secretary Mark O. Rabauliman said these funds will be used for the CNMI Department of Commerce “to conduct a comprehensive outreach to businesses on how to advertise their products to off-island markets, particularly the Asian markets. The goal is to enhance our export capability here in the Northern Mariana Islands.”
The STEP program is an essential federal program that provides small businesses “here in the CNMI with the tools they need to succeed within a more globalized economy,” said Gov. Ralph DLG Torres. “I commend the CNMI Department of Commerce for being proactive in helping us expand our product reach to not only our historical markets, but also the rest of the world.”
The 2017 STEP awards will allow states to assist small businesses with the information and tools they need to succeed in export related activities that are in line with the objectives of the program. 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.
STEP awards are managed and provided at the local level by state government organizations. The program is managed at the national level by the U.S. Small Business Administration’s Office of International Trade. (PR)