ST. PAUL (Nov. 14, 2014) — The Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED) has been awarded more than $470,000 by the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) for its State Trade and Export Promotion Program (STEP). Funds will be used to develop a variety of export related programs to help small businesses in Minnesota enter foreign markets and assist current exporters in exploring new market opportunities. These activities include global business development missions; statewide export education seminars as well as direct grants for companies.
The Minnesota Trade Office (MTO) anticipates awarding matching grants of up to $7,500 each for small and medium enterprises using the SBA funds. In addition, $300,000 in state funds will be available for companies new to exporting. Greater Minnesota businesses new to market will have priority for grants.
“Our small businesses and entrepreneurs in Minnesota are the backbone of our economy,” said DEED Commissioner Katie Clark Sieben. “In today’s global marketplace, we must continue to help our small business community reach key foreign markets to increase exports, and attract new foreign direct investment inside our borders.”
Companies that qualify for the grants will be able to participate in international trade missions, trade shows and other export development activities.
As part of the STEP grants, the MTO and the Minnesota Department of Agriculture (MDA) will lead delegations on trade missions and to trade shows in key markets that hold excellent export potential for small businesses. Companies that qualify for federal funds will be able to receive certain services and participate in the following events at reduced cost:
1. A medical trade mission to Arab Health
2. Water and wastewater treatment mission to Saudi Arabia
3. Water sector mission to Germany
4. German/Nordic medical technology road show
5. MDA Meat mission to South Korea and Japan
6. MDA program to develop export success in North American convenience stores
In addition, companies may use the funding to participate in regional trade missions coordinated by the Council of Great Lakes Governors (CGLG). These missions include multi-sector trade missions to Mexico, Quebec and East Africa. Multi-sector missions include manufacturing and other industries.
Services available to companies that receive state-funded grants include:
1. Export training designed to help new or occasional exporters develop an export strategy
2. Mission fees for participation in foreign trade missions
3. Space rental for trade show exhibition
4. Matchmaking, Gold Key and Market builder Services offered by the U.S. Commercial Service, Food Export or similar private organization
5. Design of international marketing products or campaigns
6. Foreign language translation of websites
7. Overseas sales trips
8. Technical services to make modifications to products to meet foreign standards, certifications, or regulatory requirements for export (such as CE-marking)
9. Export training designed to help new or occasional exporters develop an export strategy
To be eligible for state and SBA funding, companies must fit the SBA definition of a small business, based on annual sales or number of employees, and:
1. Have been in operation for at least one year
2. Be operating profitably, based on U.S. operations
3. Have an understanding of the costs associated with exporting
4. Have a strategic plan for exporting
5. Have products and services appropriate for the target market
For more information about the SBA awards, go to http://www.sba.gov/offices/ headquarters/oit/resources/ 14315
The MTO, an office within the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED), is focused on increasing state export sales in foreign markets. The MTO promotes international trade by providing export technical assistance, export education and training, and one-on-one consulting to Minnesota companies interested in selling manufactured goods and services in the international marketplace.
DEED is the state’s principal economic development agency, promoting business recruitment, expansion and retention, workforce development, international trade and community development. For more details about the agency and our services, visit us at http://mn.gov/deed/. Follow us on Twitter attwitter.com/mndeed.