LANSING – Michigan has once again received the top award in the nation from the U.S. Small Business Administration State Trade Expansion Program for fiscal year 2020.

In its ninth year of receiving STEP funds, Michigan received the maximum amount of $900,000, representing a $100,000 increase from the previous year. The Michigan Strategic Fund is providing an additional $300,000 to support the Michigan STEP initiative (MI-STEP).

MI-STEP is designed to spur job creation by empowering Michigan “eligible small business concerns,” or ESBCs, to export their products. The program has three primary objectives: increase the number of Michigan small businesses that export, increase the dollar value of Michigan exports, and increase the number of Michigan small businesses exploring significant new trade opportunities, including expansion of existing export markets.  

The fiscal year 2020 award supports export development for ESBCs through financial assistance grants for trade missions, international sales trips, and trade shows along with website translation, localization, and search engine optimization. In addition, financial assistance grants will support regionally based ExporTech trainings with the US Commercial Service in Marquette, Saginaw, Detroit, and Lansing. MI-STEP is expected to support 224 ESBCs, with anticipated export sales totaling $128.1 million.

“Export sales help diversify companies’ customer bases, provide longer term stability and can support higher paying jobs,” said MEDC CEO Jeff Mason. “This year’s STEP grant is once again the largest award in the nation, reflecting the Small Business Administration’s strong confidence in Michigan’s successful execution of export promotion to increase international sales.”

MEDC has participated in STEP since 2011. Since then, the program has facilitated more than $3 billion in export sales through federal and non-federally funded programs. In fiscal year 2018, export sales generated a total of $641.5 million. Over 300 companies received assistance through Michigan’s export grant programs, with 560 fully executed grants and 100 percent of funds disbursed directly to companies.

The MEDC’s export plan was developed and executed through collaboration with strategic Michigan export service providers including: U.S. Department of Commerce, Michigan Small Business Administration, Michigan Small Business Development Center, Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development, MSU International Business Center, Automation Alley, Van Andel Global Trade Center, Networks Northwest, East & West Michigan District Export Councils along with other state & local service providers.

The MEDC coordinates a statewide export assistance delivery system with public and private resources to ensure company access regardless of geographic location.

Applications for fiscal year 2020 MI-STEP grants are now open to ESBCs. For complete details on how companies can apply for assistance, including eligibility requirements and the application process, please visit www.michiganbusiness.org/services/international-trade