Governor John Kitzhaber today announced the approval of a $375,000 federal grant designed to help Oregon companies sell their products to overseas customers. The State Trade and Export Promotion (STEP) program grant is a pilot initiative of the U.S. Small Business Administration and will be administered by Business Oregon.
“My recent trade mission to Asia highlighted the critical role exports play in creating jobs, and bringing new dollars into Oregon’s growing economy,” Governor Kitzhaber said. “Nearly one-fourth of Oregon’s manufacturing jobs depend on exports, and this assistance will expand Business Oregon’s existing efforts to help Oregon firms market and sell their products overseas.”
International trade supports nearly 5,000 Oregon companies that export their products and services abroad and is critical to retaining and creating jobs in the state. Oregon exports increased 19 percent in 2010, led by high-tech sales and record shipments to China. Oregon companies registered $17.68 billion in foreign sales last year.
Business Oregon’s Global Strategies team currently offers technical assistance and planning support as well as financial grants up to $2,500 through the Oregon Trade Promotion Program (OTPP) that help Oregon companies market their products and meet new customers and distributors at international trade shows.
The STEP program, launched in March, aligns with President Obama’s National Export Initiative. The President’s initiative calls for doubling U.S. exports in five years – and in so doing, supporting two million jobs. The program provides federal funding for 65 to 75 percent of program costs, with states supplying the remainder. Business Oregon’s current budgeted dollars for export assistance cover the state match
The funding will support Oregon companies’ participation in international trade shows and trade missions through the administration of individual export development grants of up to $5,000.
The Oregon STEP Project will grow the pool of potential and existing exporters from across the state in partnership with export and small business assistance providers. Recruitment efforts will emphasize outreach to minority, women-owned and small businesses. The project will draw from resources, seminars, workshops and all technical education and informational events provided by the U.S. Department of Commerce, Small Business Administration, Small Business Development Corporations, SCORE, and other education and public and private-sector partners.
The SBA anticipates it will conduct a new competition for STEP program grants during the winter of 2011. Awards will be made in September 2012 for export support services by states over the following 12 months.
Small businesses seeking to participate in the STEP program should contact Amanda Lowthian at Business Oregon at 503.229.5483, firstname.lastname@example.org.
For more information about the STEP program, www.sba.gov/about-offices-content.