Small businesses looking to penetrate foreign markets or expand their global trade activity should consider the Connecticut State Trade Expansion Program.

Connecticut’s STEP Grant program provides grants that help qualifying small businesses start or expand their international trade activities.

Connecticut small business, exports

The grants are funded in part by the U.S. Small Business Administration.

Small businesses comprise 98% of all U.S. exporters.

A small business can increase profits, reduce market dependence, and stabilize seasonal sales by selling internationally.

Exporting accounts for billions of dollars in trade each year for Connecticut companies, with France, Germany, Canada, Britain, and Mexico the state's top trade partners.

Grant Uses

Typically, a significant portion of STEP grants are used to attend and participate in international trade shows like Hannover Messe and the Paris Air Show.

But since the COVID-19 pandemic canceled many of those events, STEP grants can be used for other business activities, including:

  • Attending virtual trade shows
  • Export training
  • Developing international marketing materials
  • Translating websites
  • Using U.S. Department of Commerce services

Businesses can apply for more than one grant annually, for a total of $15,000 per company.

Small businesses may be reimbursed for 75% of eligible expenses up to a maximum of $7,500 per activity.

Businesses can apply for more than one STEP activity in a program year, for a maximum value of $15,000 per company.

Small business leaders can visit the STEP Grant program page to learn more about eligibility and program guidelines, then visit the new application portal and get started growing your international business.

You find additional information and application details here or contact Laura Jaworski (860.500.2368) or Aaron Knight (860.500.2359) at the state Department of Economic and Community Development.