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SBA introduces new STEP pilot program

WASHINGTON — Beginning March 1, states can apply for grants from the U.S. Small Business Administration to support efforts to increase exporting by small businesses.

The State Trade and Export Promotion (STEP) pilot grant initiative is authorized to provide up to $90 million in grants to states over the next three years.

The STEP pilot grant initiative is aimed at achieving two goals: Increase the number of small businesses that want to export and increase the value of exports for those small businesses that currently export. Established by the Small Business Jobs Act of 2010, the 50 states, the District of Columbia and U.S. territories are all eligible to apply for grants, which will be awarded on a competitive basis.

The Jobs Act authorized up to $90 million over three fiscal years, $30 million each year, beginning with the current fiscal year 2011. Individual state project award amounts will vary based on each state’s proposed project plan and budget.

A state may not submit more than one application for a grant under the initiative, but may apply each federal fiscal year through the three-year term of the pilot grant initiative. Activities that can be supported with grant dollars under this initiative may include participation in foreign trade missions, foreign market sales trips, subscription services provided by USDOC, design of international marketing products or campaigns, export trade show exhibits, training workshops or other export initiatives that are in line with the goals of the pilot grant initiative.

The STEP pilot grant initiative announcement will be posted at www.Grants.gov  March 1. The application period will be March 1 through April 26. Awards for the first year of the grant program will be issued in summer of 2011.

See more information at www.sba.gov/STEP.

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