Learn About State Trade and Exports

E-newsletter Issue #76 | August 18, 2011

Small business often is called the engine that drives the American economy.

“We know that the bulk of new job creation comes from small and medium-sized businesses,” said Jean Davis, director of the North Carolina Department of Commerce’s International Trade Division.

Today, those small businesses are increasingly venturing into the international marketplace. Last year, states got a new tool to help those businesses reach their goals of increasing their international sales or jumping into the export market for the first time.

The U.S. Small Business Administration has lauded the Small Business Jobs Act of 2010, which President Obama signed into law last September, as “the most significant piece of small business legislation in over a decade.”

The act directs the Small Business Administration to establish a three-year trade and export promotion pilot initiative, known as the State Trade and Export Promotion, commonly called STEP, pilot grant initiative, to make grants to states to assist eligible small businesses in their exporting efforts. The law appropriates $30 million annually for the 2011, 2012 and 2013 fiscal years for the initiative.

The ultimate goal of STEP is to increase the number of small businesses that are exporting and increase the value of exports for those small businesses that are currently exporting.

“The STEP Initiative is a critical component of our efforts to create jobs here at home by helping our small and medium-sized enterprises to increase their international sales,” said Davis. “This grant allows us to get local firms into overseas markets to meet with buyers, distributors and really get their exports going.”

Davis knows the importance of exports to the economic health of her state.

“Exports are vital to both traditional industries in our state as well as to new knowledge economy companies. In 2009, exports supported 347,000 jobs and contributed $30.5 billion to North Carolina’s economy,” she said.  

 “Now is the time to focus on opening new markets and the STEP grant is allowing us to roll out new innovative programs that bring export assistance to those businesses across our state.” 
Davis and Wade Merritt, vice president of the Maine International Trade Center, will discuss the State Trade and Export Promotion Grant Program during a  webinar 2 p.m. EDT Aug.23.

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