STEP Grants Help Massachusetts Export Companies Market Themselves Overseas

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Caption: President Cathy Rocheleau welcomed Nam Pham and Mark Sullivan  and other state and local officials to  Rocheleau Tool & Die Company for the Step Grant Announcement.  (Photo courtesy of Fitchburg Sentinel & Enterprise)

Earlier this month, federal and state officials announced a new round of grants to help small businesses in Massachusetts expand and help market their export activities overseas.

The U.S. Small Business Administration’s State Trade and Expansion Program (STEP) awarded $504,478 in funds to Massachusetts, which added a matching contribution of $168,159 for a total of $672,637.

The STEP grant is being administered through the Massachusetts Office of International Trade & Investment (MOITI), the Office of Business Development (MOBD) and the Massachusetts Export Center (MEC).

The announcement was made at the Rocheleau Tool & Die Company in Fitchburg, a company that has had success in expanding its business to South America. Cathy Rocheleau, president of Rocheleau Tool & Die, welcomed state and local officials to the plant and later gave a tour of the manufacturing facilities.

Nam Pham, Assistant Secretary of Business Development, said the funds “will support the growth of small businesses, whether they are new to exporting, or seeking to expand their export activities. I look forward to continued partnerships with the U.S. Small Business Administration, as we work together to spread economic growth across the Commonwealth.”

The STEP grants provide reimbursements to eligible Massachusetts small businesses for qualified export-promotion expenses. Supported activities may include trade show participation, overseas marketing, and localization services and subscription services from the U.S. Department of Commerce. Participating small businesses are also required to secure matching private funds.

Paula Murphy, Director of the Massachusetts Export Center, said the grant is available to small businesses across Massachusetts. “The funds are awarded on a competitive basis, and a well-planned international business strategy is critical for a grant award,” she said.

Mark F. Sullivan, Executive Director of MOITI, said last year’s STEP grants were shared with over 60 Massachusetts small businesses to enhance their opportunities in the global marketplace. “We look forward to continuing that success with this year’s grant round,” Sullivan added.

Also attending the event was Robert H. Nelson, district director of SBA’s Massachusetts District Office, Roy Nascimento, executive director of the North Central Massachusetts Chamber of Commerce and Fitchburg Mayor Stephen DiNatale.

MOITI and MEC are currently accepting grant applications from businesses, and a free STEP grant webinar is being presented on November 18 and December 14, 2016.