(The Center Square) – The Washington State Department of Commerce recently announced it had received a $2 million grant from the U.S. Small Business Administration to beef up exporting.
The money is part of the SBA’s State Trade Expansion Program and is the tenth consecutive year the Washington State Department of Commerce has received assistance since the program was created by the Small Business Jobs Act of 2010. The highest grant available is $2 million, which only Washington and one other state received.
The state said Wednesday that it would use the money to boost export programs such as vouchers, virtual and in-person industry trade shows, trade missions, inbound buyer events and export training.
Export vouchers are reimbursements from the state to small businesses to pay for things like website upgrades, digital marketing platforms, international shipment of product samples and costs associated with international patent protection.
Small businesses are eligible for the vouchers if they have a physical address and do business in the state, are in good standing with the Washington State Department of Revenue and export goods or services that have at least 51 percent U.S. origin. Applications must be submitted one month before the planned activity.
“Exporting remains a significant opportunity for small businesses all over Washington state that are looking to grow by tapping new consumers and markets worldwide,” Commerce Director Lisa Brown said in a news release. “This STEP funding allows us to continue supporting companies that may not otherwise have the resources to develop relationships and navigate the complexities of selling their goods and services overseas, especially in today’s challenging trade environment.”
More than 1,030 small businesses have received money from the state through the program over the last decade. They have achieved $760 million in sales through upgrades funded by the vouchers, which the state says is a near 100-to-1 return on investment.
The state will also use the money to support some 30 trade shows over the next year, focusing on sectors such as medical devices, aerospace, defense, electronics, artificial intelligence and life sciences.
“The STEP grant we received was absolutely instrumental in increasing product sales by having our products translated to the native languages so that we could further expand into France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands and Spain,” Alan Blackford, COO of Culinary Woodcraft, said in the state’s news release. “This program is terrific for small businesses like ours.”