Grants and Incentives

Providing Grant Funding to Exporters

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.

Potential Activities

  • 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.

Connecting Exporters with Finance Programs

In addition to grants, there are other export financing programs. At the federal level, the Small Business Administration (SBA) and the Export-Import Bank offer programs such as export receivables insurance, loan guarantees to encourage banks to provide working capital for export sales or to finance export business development expenses, and buyer financing (particularly for purchases of capital equipment).

Several states also offer financing programs designed to supplement SBA and Export-Import Bank programs, including Florida and Massachusetts. And state economic development finance organizations offer ExIm Bank finance programs.

For sources and citations see full IERC Final Report, p. 61

Potential Activities

  • Connect exporters with federal (and state) export finance programs


ExIm Bank develops formal partnerships with regional EDOs and other state and local entities as part of its Regional Export Promotion Program (REPP).  This can be a valuable partnership to bring ExIm Bank finance tools to local companies, including credit insurance to reduce risk, (For more information on ExIm Bank programs see the Resources section below.)

The state of Washington has created the The Export Finance Assistance Center of Washington (EFACW) to provide “free export finance advice and counseling assistance to small and medium sized exporters or prospective Washington State-based exporters. They provide consultation services on “payment risk mitigation and export finance including credit insurance, letters of credit, foreign exchange, Export-Import Bank and Small Business Administration export finance guaranty programs.”EFACW offers businesses information on how to finance and get paid for their export sales and also acts as a matchmaker for their banking relationship.” EFACW can be a valuable resource for regional EDOs striving to support exporters in their region.


The following sources of information can be used by a regional EDO to become familiar with trade finance, so it can connect regional exporters to finance programs.

The following sources of Information can be used by a regional EDO to become familiar with selected grant programs for exporters:

The following sources of information can be used by a regional EDO to become familiar with trade finance, so it can connect regional exporters to finance programs.

Additional Help


Measuring Success