World Trade Center Utah is seeking companies in the state of Utah ready to begin exporting or increase their sales outside of the United States. By applying for funding offered through the State Trade Expansion Program (STEP) Grant, businesses can network with industry giants both domestic and abroad, use research databases and experts to focus their international development and present their company as a viable source of investment and partnership. Applications for the STEP Grant are due by January 24, 2020, and can be accessed at wtcutah.com/growwithgrants.
“Many companies might hear ‘international exporting’ and form a narrow definition of what that entails,” said WTC Utah STEP Project Director Nicole Sherwood. “What financial assistance awards mean to WTC Utah is an opportunity to streamline the development of local business strategies that are already in place and primed for expansion into international markets.”
WTC Utah received the largest increase in the nation of STEP Grant allocation through the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) for 2019-2020 totaling $500,000. Participating recipients of STEP funding may receive up to $10,000 for the award cycle which is available for activities conducted until September 30, 2020.
Activities eligible for assistance awards include foreign market sales trips, U.S. Department of Commerce services, sample product shipping fees, compliance testing, export research subscriptions, website translation, marketing media design and training programs (including conferences, meetings and symposiums). Many Utah companies are already doing these activities in some form. “We encourage anyone unsure of their position as far as receiving grant funding to contact WTC Utah at any time. You may find something worth applying for,” said Sherwood. Individual awards range between $2,000 and $3,000 per activity.
WTC Utah’s international programming expenses are also eligible for STEP Grant funding. These include expenses for the upcoming Utah Governor-led trade missions to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates in April and later in 2020 to Australia. Funding can also be applied to join WTC Utah’s roster of 2020 international trade shows. So far these include trips to ISPO Munich, the Singapore Airshow and JEC World 2020 in Paris.
“The State Trade and Expansion Program Grant provides small businesses in Utah the potential to expand globally by attendance at international trade shows/missions, foreign market sales trips and other related expenses for exporting opportunities. Utah continues to be a leader in supporting small business exports and we are excited to work in collaboration with the World Trade Center to continue this success,” said Marla Trollan, district director for the SBA Utah District Office.
“In Utah international trade supports 1 in 5 Utah jobs over 30 industries, demonstrating the importance of the STEP Grant Program that encourages and supports growth for local small businesses in foreign markets,” Trollan said. According to the latest data available from the Office of the United States Trade Representative, in 2018, Utah exported $14.4 billion of Made-in-America goods to the world. In 2016, exports from Utah supported an estimated 51 thousand jobs.
Nationally, 98 percent of America’s exports are driven by small businesses that sell their products and services globally, these STEP grants ensure they have the tools necessary to expand and market their products and services to international markets.
“This is part of a larger opportunity of making sure Utah companies and entrepreneurs are aware that one, we are here; and two, that we offer so much value through events, programming, services and financial assistance for business growth regardless of your industry and business scale,” said WTC Utah president & CEO Miles Hansen.