SBA’s State Trade Expansion Program Grant to Provide $1M in Funding for Utah Companies

Through a generous contribution from the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA), the state of Utah will award $1M in grant funding to small businesses in the coming year. This funding will provide businesses with the resources they need to succeed in export-related activities. World Trade Center Utah (WTC Utah) administers the SBA’s State Trade Expansion Program (STEP) Grant in partnership with the Governor’s Office of Economic Opportunity (Go Utah).

Annually, WTC Utah applies for this funding on behalf of the state via a nationally-competitive application process; and over the past four years, the SBA has more than tripled Utah’s SBA STEP Grant. Combined with the state’s nation-leading trade promotion program, the grant has been a game changer for Utah’s small businesses who want to pursue international sales and opportunities. The grant has provided hundreds of Utah small businesses with financial support and business services to compete and win in global markets. 

Small businesses can apply to receive SBA STEP Grant support to offset a wide range of costs associated with pursuing international sales (e.g., designing international marketing media; using services provided by the U.S. Department of Commerce; website optimization, localization, and translation; travel costs for foreign-market sales trips; and participating in international trade missions, trade show exhibitions and export training programs, etc.).

“Through the SBA STEP Grant, Utah’s small businesses have the opportunity to expand their business into a global market,” said Marla Trollan, SBA Utah district director. “Without these funds and the World Trade Center Utah’s support, many businesses wouldn’t feel comfortable taking the leap into international sales. With this support, businesses feel like they can tackle what normally would seem like an insurmountable task. The SBA STEP Grant initiative not only helps Utah businesses but the entire state’s international efforts and economy.”

In July, Cache Valley’s Electric Power Systems (EP Systems) utilized the SBA STEP Grant to help cover travel costs and exhibit in the Utah booth at the Farnborough International Airshow in London. A leading provider of high-power, scalable powertrains, EP Systems formalized partnerships with Tokyo-based SkyDrive, a developer of flying cars and cargo drones; and Supernal, the urban air mobility division of Hyundai Motor Group, while at the Airshow.

“We’re enthused that our innovative technology is enabling aerial vehicles to take flight halfway around the world,” shared Abbie Bean, marketing communications manager at EP Systems. “The SBA STEP Grant not only provided us with funding that helped cover the cost of travel and the booth space at the Farnborough Airshow, but our experience was elevated by being part of the Utah delegation. We benefited from the success and learned experiences of our group while forging international connections.”

Since 95% of the world’s consumers and two-thirds of all purchasing power are located outside the United States, this grant program plays a critical role in providing access to capital, access to markets, and access to buyers. Last year, for every $1 in national funding for the SBA STEP Grant, businesses benefited from $42 in export sales.

This year marks the 10th year of STEP funding. Through this program, $20 million in grant funding has been awarded to state international trade agencies throughout the country for the coming year.

“We love to see these types of grants in our state, which really help our small businesses succeed. Utah thrives on its small businesses, and this is a great opportunity for them,” said Dan Hemmert, executive director of Go Utah. “We invite all who are eligible to apply. We also want to thank the SBA for making this grant possible.”

“Utah small businesses excel at generating new international sales using these grant funds. We have made awards to help with consulting services from the U.S. Commercial Service and other international consultants, international business trips and trade show visits, and many other activities,” said David Carlebach, chief operations officer at WTC Utah, “We are very eager to find small businesses across the state, especially in diverse and rural communities, which can benefit from this funding.”

WTC Utah’s SBA STEP Grant applications are open, and Utah businesses are encouraged to apply at wtcutah.com/sba-step-grant. If you have any questions about eligibility or accepted activities, please contact WTC Utah’s Jacob Johnson at grants@wtcutah.com.