Massachusetts Receives $500,000 to Support International Trade

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The Massachusetts export community got good news this week with the announcement of a $500,000 State Trade and Export Promotion (STEP) federal grant from the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA).

Jay Ash, Secretary of Housing & Economic Development, joined SBA officials, business leaders and export companies at the Massachusetts State House to make the announcement.

The grant will increase the Commonwealth’s international presence by helping to fund small business export activities such as trade show participation, overseas marketing and localization services, and subscription services from the U.S. Department of Commerce.

“Partnering with the SBA to increase exports and access to international markets will bring prosperity home for workers and employers, while increasing the worldwide availability of our state’s cutting-edge products,” Ash said.

SBA Administrator Maria Contreras-Sweet said in a statement, “SBA’s STEP program ensures local resources are available to help small businesses tap global markets. By funding states and their export development partners, the SBA is delivering the tools and resources required for small businesses to launch their services and products abroad. With 95% of the world’s consumers living outside of the United States, SBA’s STEP program ensures that America’s small businesses can succeed in the 21st century global economy.”

The grant is being administered by the Massachusetts Office of International Trade and Investment (MOITI) in collaboration with the Massachusetts Export Center (MEC), a specialty center of the Massachusetts Small Business Development Center Network (MSBDC).

Nam Pham, Assistant Secretary of Business Development, said, “Supporting new-to-export and export-expanding businesses is part of our dedication to growing Massachusetts’ businesses nationally, and internationally.”

U.S. Congressman Seth Moulton said, “Expanding markets for American-made products abroad boosts paychecks and grows our economy here in Massachusetts. As a member of the Small Business Committee, I’ll continue working to give our small business owners the tools to do what they do best: create quality products and services and good jobs in our communities.”

Kristen Rupert, Executive Director of the Associated Industries of Massachusetts International Business Council, said, “For many Massachusetts companies, especially manufacturers, future growth will come from international markets. The STEP grant will be critical to removing export barriers for local firms.”

Paula Murphy, Director of the Massachusetts Export Center, said, “We are delighted to be part of the Massachusetts STEP team and look forward to helping many small businesses accelerate their export growth through the STEP program.”

Hunter Richard, Manager of Business Development at MOITI, said, “The STEP grant is another great resource for new-to-export small businesses to expand their footprint in the global marketplace.”

In previous years, Massachusetts small businesses offset the costs of export promotion activities through the STEP program and received an average rate of return of $12 for every $1 of grant funding. An Amesbury-based science company used part of its $10,000 STEP grant in 2012 to participate in ARABlab, a science trade show in Dubai. As a result, the company secured $100,000 worth of business within two months after attending ARABlab. A manufacturer in North Attleborough was able to increase its presence in Brazil in Brazil by funding three Gold Key missions with the US Department of Commerce in 2011 as well as translating its sales and marketing materials to Portuguese.

Massachusetts will contribute $166,667 in matching funds to the program, and receiving firms will be required to leverage private money together with the grant funds to ensure that taxpayer money is spent efficiently and effectively.

In October, MOITI and MEC will begin soliciting applications to participate in the STEP program. For more details, contact Hunter Richard at 617-973-8532 or hunter.richard@MassMail.State.MA.US