A new U.S. Small Business Administration program is designed to help more small businesses sell their products abroad while increasing the value of Connecticut’s exports.

The SBA announced it has awarded Connecticut with SBA State Trade Expansion Program export grant funds for the 2020-21 federal fiscal year.

The STEP program’s goal is to increase the number of eligible small businesses in Connecticut that export, increase the value of exports by those small businesses, and increase the number of small businesses exploring new trade opportunities in foreign markets.

The grants can be used for trade shows, trade missions, designing international marketing media, translating and localizing websites, U.S. Department of Commerce services, export training programs, and export B2B matchmaking.

Exports drive small business growth in the U.S. with small businesses comprising 98% of all U.S. exporters.

In Connecticut, exports topped $16 billion in 2019, thanks largely to the state’s aerospace industry.

Grants

STEP applications are due before a company participates in a project or activity, with the grant providing partial reimbursement to the small business.

Reimbursements will be made towards eligible small businesses’ registration/service fees and event participation expenses.

The program offers reimbursement to eligible Connecticut companies that participate in Connecticut-sponsored exhibitions at Medica 2020, Aeromart Montreal 2021, Hannover H2FC 2021, and the 2021 Paris Air Show.

The state Department of Economic and Community Development created an export general assistance fund for the program and will administer the grant, vet applicants for eligibility, and follow all SBA procedures.

Applications

Qualifying small businesses may apply to receive assistance of 75% of eligible expenses up to a maximum of $7,500 per activity, for a maximum total of $15,000 per company per program year.

This means small businesses can apply for and participate in more than one STEP activity in a program year.

Applications are due no later than Sept. 15, 2021.

For more information, visit the new application portal or contact the DECD’s Laura Jaworski or Aaron Knight.