Printable Version

SBA Announces Cooperative Agreements Available for State Trade and Export Promotion

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

(SBA)  SBA to Award $17 Million to Promote Small Business Exporting

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Administrator Maria Contreras-Sweet, head of the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) announced today, on her one year anniversary at the helm of the agency that states will be able to apply for cooperative agreement awards from the federal agency starting April 8 to support efforts to increase exporting by small businesses. The State Trade and Export Promotion (STEP) Program, in line with the goal of creating bold market opportunities for entrepreneurs across the nation, will award $17.4 million to states by September 30, 2015. Cooperative agreements will be awarded on a competitive basis.

“Last year, the SBA shattered our record for trade finance, supporting $3.1 billion in exports. We can do even more to help our small businesses reach the 95 percent of consumers who live outside our borders," said Administrator Contreras-Sweet. "Through STEP awards, the SBA can work together with states to help more small businesses will become exporters and expand their export sales. In the process, these small businesses will create jobs and strengthen the economies in their communities, across their state and the nation.”

The STEP initiative has two objectives: 1) increase the number of small businesses that begin to export, and 2) increase the value of exports for small businesses that currently export. The 50 states, the District of Columbia, Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, U.S. Virgin Islands, Guam, American Samoa and Commonwealth of Northern Mariana Islands are eligible to apply. The award amounts will vary based on the project plan, budget, and competitive quality proposed by the state. Expanding the base of small business exporters and making the process as easy as possible is a key component of the Administration’s National Export Initiative NEXT.

Results for the STEP program have been very strong. Awardees reported a return on investment of federal funds of over seventeen-to-one during the first two award years.

A state may not submit more than one application for a STEP award and should support the following export related activities: participation in foreign trade missions, foreign market sales trips, subscription services provided by the U.S. Department of Commerce, design of international marketing campaigns, export trade show exhibits, training workshops or other export initiatives that are in line with the objectives of the pilot program.

The STEP Program announcement will be posted at on April 8, 2015. The application period will be from April 8 through May 20, 2015. For more information, visit