Grant funding is available in some regions to offset the cost of export market development. Regional EDOs can connect regional exporters with these grant programs to encourage their export expansion activities. In some cases, regional EDOs have secured grant funds for their own export grant programs.
- Connecting exporters with state and STEP grant funding
- Offering regional or metro export grants (offered by regional EDO)
States and SBA’s STEP: States offer grants to offset the costs of export development, generally funded by the federal SBA State Trade and Export Promotion (STEP) program, but also supported by state funds. Examples include the Wisconsin International Market Access Grant, Global NY Grant Program, and ExportMD in Maryland. The STEP and state grants are typically used to offset a portion of the costs (usually up to a certain maximum) of export development, such as tradeshow and trade mission expenses, U.S. Commercial Service fee-based services (such as Gold Key Service and International Partner Search), website globalization, compliance assistance/consulting, training, and translation. Data reported to the STEP program suggests that substantial export sales are generated because of these grants, demonstrating a very high return on investment. (Source: IERC Final Report p. 60-61). See STEP program information on SBA website.
EDA: Like the SBA, the Economic Development Administration offers grants to EDOs to support economic development activities, including fostering exports. In 2017, for example, the World Trade Center of Greater Philadelphia received a $1 million grant to support their metro export plan. (Source: IERC Final Report, p. 61).
Metro Grants / JP Morgan Chase: Some major metros also offer grants or scholarships—often funded by JP Morgan Chase—to offset the cost of export development, facilitating companies’ participation in federal and state programs. Example cities include: Chicago, Louisville, San Diego, and Milwaukee. These grants make it easier for regional companies to invest in export development, while leveraging existing federal and state programs. (Source: IERC Final Report, p. 61)
Food and Agricultural Products: The Market Access Program (MAP) of the Foreign Agricultural Service offers reimbursement for a portion of eligible marketing expenditures for food and agricultural exporters. Funds are generally administered by agricultural trade associations, cooperatives, and state regional trade groups, such as Food Export Midwest and Food Export Northeast, SUSTA and WUSATA. For example, Food Export’s “branded program” (funded by MAP) offers up to 50% reimbursement for eligible marketing expenses, including international advertising, exhibitor fees at tradeshows, modification of packaging and labeling, development of marketing materials, and website development for global markets.
The most important export grant program is SBA’s STEP program. Below are success stories of exporters resulting from the use of STEP grants. They illustrate the value of these types of grants in facilitating export success.