Kentucky businesses can expect more state assistance to help them market their products worldwide. The Small Business Administration has announced the Commonwealth will receive a $400,000 State Trade Export Promotion (STEP) grant, designed to encourage and boost international trade among the Commonwealth’s small businesses.
“Kentucky small businesses and exports are vital to Kentucky’s continued growth, and the STEP program provides an opportunity to provide assistance in both areas,” said Mandy Lambert, commissioner of business development in the Kentucky Cabinet for Economic Development. “This funding will allow us to offer assistance where those businesses need it most, and it will help those companies reach their full potential.”
The objectives of the STEP program are to increase the number of small businesses that begin to export, as well as increase the value of exports for small businesses that currently conduct international business. As demand for Kentucky products increases worldwide, those businesses, in turn, are able to expand and create more jobs for Kentuckians.
The latest grant is the fourth round of funding offered through the program. Kentucky previously received a $300,000 grant in 2014; a $276,000 grant in 2012; and $427,000 in 2011.
Kentucky uses these funds to lower the cost for small businesses wanting to participate in international trade missions, sales trips and subscription services provided by the U.S. Department of Commerce. Additionally, the funds assist companies with international marketing campaigns, export trade show exhibits, training workshops or other export initiatives that are in line with the objectives of the program.
The STEP grant is directly aligned with the goals of the Kentucky Export Initiative (KEI), launched in 2010 by Governor Steve Beshear. KEI was formed to streamline and elevate the state’s efforts to help Kentucky businesses reach global markets. Last year, the Commonwealth exported $27.5 billion in products to nearly 200 countries, the fourth consecutive year of record growth. Gov. Beshear also has led economic development trade missions to the United Kingdom and Canada in recent years, and those missions have led to increased export opportunities for the participating companies.