Small Business Development Centers staff.
Administrator Casillas Guzmán was in charge of making the announcement. Photo: @SBAIsabel.

$20 million aimed to grow exports amongst new small companies

According to data from the Biden Administration, it is estimated that in the United States there are about 33 million of these businesses.


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SBA Announcement

September 20th, 2023


Administrator Isabella Casillas Guzmán, head of the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA), recently announced that $20 million will be earmarked for grants awarded to 49 state and territorial international trade agencies across the country as part of the SBA’s State Trade Expansion Program (STEP). 

Casillas Guzmán stated through a press release:

For over ten years, the SBA's State Trade Expansion Program has been an important federal and state partnership to get funding directly to small businesses seeking to grow their businesses and our economy with international trade opportunities.

About the Program

According to SBA data, since its creation in 2010, as part of the Small Business Jobs Act, the STEP program has awarded $235.5 million in grants and has directly supported international expansion and export growth of more than 13,000 small businesses.

The information explains that as states improve their export skills, the return on investment continues to improve, for example, last year, every dollar of STEP funding generated $43 in export sales.

“And with these funds, small businesses can get trade-ready, attend trade shows in foreign markets, and grow through global e-commerce,” added Casillas Guzmán. 


STEP Awards help entrepreneurs compete globally by offsetting costs incurred for export-related activities, such as those listed below:

  • Participation in foreign trade missions
  • Design of international marketing campaigns
  • Participation in export trade fair exhibitions
  • Attendance at training workshops and other important means of participation

"STEP's profound impact stands as a testament to the SBA's unwavering support of U.S. small businesses seeking to grow their international footprint,” pointed out Claire Ehmann, acting associate administrator for International Trade.

Commercial Strengthening

For the SBA, strengthening the base of small business exporters and improving global competitiveness on the international stage are key components of the SBA's small business strategy.

"The Biden-Harris Administration remains committed to leveling the playing field for entrepreneurs and ensuring American small businesses can promote their products and services to over 95% of the world's consumers who live abroad,” highlighted Casillas Guzmán.

This year's awardees were selected after a highly competitive application process. Individual STEP Awards are administered at the local level by state government organizations and non-profit entities.

"As STEP matures beyond its first decade, the SBA will continue modernizing and marketing this signature program that helps small businesses enter and expand into the international marketplace,” added Ehmann.


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