WASHINGTON — Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship Ranking Member Ben
Cardin (D-Md.) today issued a statement lauding a U.S. Small Business
Administration (SBA) announcement
that the State of Maryland was awarded a $550,000 State Trade Expansion Program
(STEP) grant. The state will use the grant to connect Maryland small businesses
with international trade missions.
than 50 Maryland small businesses take advantage of STEP-funded export
promotion activity each year, which has resulted in more than $50 million in
confirmed sales. During a Small Business Committee hearing on trade in April,
committee members heard testimony
from BAON Enterprises, a woman-owned small business based on the Eastern Shore
of Maryland, whose first international sale was made possible on a STEP-funded
trade mission in 2017.
Maryland small businesses make products that would be in high demand abroad,
but they are unable to take advantage of these opportunities because they lack
the trading contacts and technical know-how to expand into international
markets on their own,” said Ranking Member Cardin. “With this investment
from SBA, Maryland agencies will have the resources they need to help small
businesses develop the relationships and expertise they need to export their
products and services.”
their narrower margins and smaller staffs, small businesses often struggle to
navigate international markets, which represent 95 percent of all global
consumers. The struggles small businesses face explain why only one percent of
the 30 million small businesses in America export their products.
created STEP in 2010 to increase opportunities for small businesses to engage
in international trade. The program awards grants to state economic development
agencies so they can help small businesses attend international trade shows and
connect with customers in foreign markets. The grants also allow economic
development agencies to provide counseling and training to help small
businesses understand the rules of international trade.
addition to STEP, SBA helps small businesses enter international markets
through the following programs:
Export Express Loan Program, which provides loans of up to $500,000 to
small businesses that are in the early stage of the exporting process.
Export Working Capital Program, which provides loans of up to $5 million
to small businesses to cover the cost of international purchase orders.
The loans allow small businesses to expand into international markets
without disrupting their domestic financing and business plan.
International Trade Program, which provides loans of up to $5 million to
small businesses that regularly engage in international trade so they can
expand their production capacity.
total, the programs led to $3.1 billion in export sales for small businesses in
Fiscal Year 2018. STEP is especially successful, with a recent performance
report finding that the program generated more than $500 million in export
sales and assisted more than 7,000 small businesses nationwide. The report also
found that STEP returns more than $31 in sales for small businesses for every
dollar invested in the program.