Second STEP grant award for the second straight year
The U.S. Small Business Administration has awarded the CNMI $150,000 in State Trade Expansion Program grant funds for small business export planning and advertising.
Gov. Ralph DLG Torres, who announced the CNMI being awarded the grant yesterday, said this is the second straight year for the CNMI to be a recipient of the 2018 STEP Program funding opportunity. The STEP grant is highly competitive.
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 U.S. and the CNMI’s small business strategy.
The successful submission of the CNMI’s application for the Fiscal Year 2018 STEP Grant opportunity demonstrates the commitment of this Administration to expanding the program in order to afford more small businesses to participate in the CNMI’s export initiative.
In 2017, the CNMI was awarded $142,000 in STEP funds, for a two-year period, which is now working its way toward the fourth quarter into the program, which will end by 2019. The 2018 STEP award of $150,000 will be an additional two-year period funding, which ends by 2020.
“The STEP program is an essential federal program that provides our small businesses here in the CNMI with the tools they need to succeed within a more globalized economy. I once again 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,” Torres said.
Commerce Secretary Mark O. Rabauliman said the STEP program 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 administration’s small business strategy. The initial 2017 STEP funding was used to conduct a comprehensive outreach to businesses on how to advertise their products to off-island markets, particularly the Asian markets. The goal was to enhance our export capability here in the Northern Mariana Islands, which drew in new to export businesses from Saipan (five), Tinian (two), and Rota (three). The 2018 STEP award will essentially provide additional funding as we continue to expand into the CNMI’s STEP program,” Rabauliman added.
The STEP grant funding allows 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.
For assistance or need more information regarding the CNMI STEP program, contact Frank Cabrera, CNMI STEP project coordinator, at 664-3000 or Oscar Camacho, CNMI STEP project adviser, at 234-6245, Ext. 314. (PR)