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$30 Million in Grants for SME Exporters of U.S. Products and Services

In fiscal year 2011, SBA awarded 52 grants totaling $30 million

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By Ray Hays, International Consultant and Member of the Arizona District Export Council. 

Re-blogging of this post is permitted and encouraged.

As many U.S. small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) compete for revenue from new markets, they often overlook the global picture: Promote your products and services internationally. While it sounds daunting, it’s often a simple matter of funding and international expertise to sell your products and services into global markets.

What if your company had the opportunity to leverage international business experts from the public and private sector to market your product internationally? At no cost?

Welcome to the best kept public secret in international business.

The Small Business Administration (SBA) offers grants through the State Trade and Export Promotion Grant (STEP) program. Over the last year, $30 million in export promotion grants were awarded through the SBA, and the same amounts are expected for 2013 and 2014

The rules and amounts of the grants will vary by state, but in many cases, U.S. exporters of products and services are eligible for thousands of dollars in export promotion grants.

Depending on the state, these grants may be applied toward the travel and fees of several export promotion opportunities:

  • Trade Missions – These are usually managed through the individual state trade agencies or through federal agencies, such as the U.S. Commercial Service. These trade missions typically gather attendees from a sector to participate in a multi-country promotional visit, supported by the the Trade Representatives at U.S. Embassies in those countries.
  • Trade Shows and Fairs – Similar to the trade missions, your state and federal agencies may attend a industry-specific Trade Show, with U.S. small businesses representatives.
  • Individual Company Promotion Events – Through the U.S. Commercial Service and other organizations, U.S. businesses have the opportunity to have a custom program that helps the American company to identify buyers, distributors, licensees or other partners in key international markets. These programs (such as the USCS Gold Key Program) typically leverage the resources of the U.S. embassies and consulates in the international markets.
  • Privately Contracted Export Marketing and Promotion — A range of U.S. companies work closely with the USCS and other agencies to provide contracted export assistance to SMEs. Often these private contractors supplement existing U.S. government programs, providing small businesses with the management guidance and experience to maximize their success in their export marketing efforts.

As a (very rough) example, a Trade Show may require a travel budget of $5,000 and exhibition costs of $5,000. Some U.S. companies can qualify for reimbursement of 75% or more of the travel cost and 100% of the exhibition costs through the STEP Grant program. This would bring the cost of a $10K trade show into the range of $1,250… Other export promotion activities may be covered in-full.

Of course, a U.S. company should not strike out blindly into the international marketplace. Your company will need to identify target markets, evaluate risk/returns based on the country regulations and demographics, build a model for international expansion and finally, execute on this plan.

If you do not have the international expertise in-house, you can work with a U.S. contractor — a consultant or management firm — to plan and deploy the export promotion strategy.

Whether your company builds an international team in-house or contracts international management specialists, this would be a good time to take action. The second year of SBA STEP Grants are already awarded, and the third (and final) year of STEP Grants are awaiting proposals. Go get your piece of the international pie.

In addition to these grants, export financing programs for SMEs are available through SBA and Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC).

For resources, please contact your regional District Export Council (Google it for your state), or the nearest U.S. Commercial Service Export Assistance Center.

Having personally participated in over 40 international events and trade missions through the USCS, I highly recommend using their services. I am currently a Member of the District Export Council in my home state of Arizona, which works closely with the USCS on export promotion efforts.

Regardless of your location, please feel free to contact me if you would like more information on these programs, and I would be happy to point you to the appropriate export assistance resource in your local market.

This article is based on current knowledge to-date of STEP Grants based on various government websites. The program details may vary by state and rules are often updated. For the latest information please click on this link for the SBA website page on the STEP Grants.

Please re-blog or re-post this article to your social media groups and professional contacts interested in international business.

Copyright Ray Hays, Envoy Investments LLC. All rights reserved. Re-blogging of this post is permitted. Referrals to http://www.rayhays.com are appreciated.

Ray Hays owns Envoy Consulting, which provides international business development guidance for U.S. product and service exporters. Ray is a Member of the Arizona District Export Council.  Email: ray@rayhays.com, cell: 714-797-3386, Skype: Ray_Hays.

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U.S. Green Exporters Get Support from Two Federal Agencies

windmillDepartment of Commerce Working with EPA on Export Promotion

December 14, 2012

Todd DeLelle is an international trade specialist in the International Trade Administration’s Office of Energy and Environmental Industries.

Commerce Department and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) officials will be participating in a series of collaborative activities to promote exports of U.S. environmental solutions during POWER-GEN International, the industry leader in providing comprehensive coverage of the trends, technologies and issues facing the generation sector.  At this year’s show, EPA participation has been folded into the International Buyer Program, a joint U.S. government-industry effort designed to stimulate U.S. exports by promoting U.S. industry exhibitors to foreign markets. Department of Commerce and EPA representatives are meeting with power industry delegates from international markets and U.S. companies at the show’s Global Business Center.

The Department of Commerce and EPA continue to work together to promote U.S. technology exports by integrating EPA’s technical analysis into Commerce’s export promotion and trade policy activities. The two agencies lead The Environmental Export Initiative – an effort to enhance interagency efforts to support U.S. exports of technologies relevant to air emissions, water treatment, and solid waste management.  The Initiative was publicly announced on May 14, 2012 at American University by then-Commerce Secretary Bryson, EPA Administrator Jackson, U.S. Trade Representative Kirk, and Secretary of Agriculture Vilsak.  In 2010, the United States  industry that supplies these goods and services generated an estimated $312 billion in revenue, employed 1.7 million Americans, and experienced a trade surplus of approximately $13 billion, according to Environmental Business International. Its export activities underpin the advancement of environmental quality and human health in other parts of the world, while supporting increased jobs and economic activity in the United States.

While at the show, Commerce and EPA officials will be touting the recently developed Environmental Solutions Exporter Portal. The portal represents a on-line resource for companies interested in U.S. government services and products that facilitate exports. It provides a direct line to U.S. trade and environmental protection specialists and includes information on foreign environmental markets, export facilitation services, export finance products, trade promotion events, and policy initiatives that support the U.S. technology exports.

The Portal also links EPA analysis of key global environmental issues with U.S. solutions providers in the U.S. Environmental Solutions Toolkit.  Currently, the Toolkit includes modules on groundwater remediation,  nutrient removal in municipal water treatment, emissions control from large marine diesel engines, and mercury control from power plant emissions.  The addition of supplemental air pollution control areas is currently underway, including those relevant to: nitrogen oxides emissions control from power plants, air issues relevant to the oil and gas industry, and emissions from non-road diesel engines.

For more information, including how companies can participate, please visit the portal at  www.export.gov/envirotech or www.epa.gov/international/exports.

Article Re-blogged from International Trade Administration, courtesy of Ray Hays, Member – Arizona District Export Council.

Blog: www.rayhays.com

American SME Merchandise Exports Grow 24% in 2010

Article from ITA Blog, re-blogged courtesy of Ray Hays – Member Arizona District Export Council

Brief Review of U.S. SME Trading Companies in 2010

December 6, 2012

David Moore is an economist in the Office of Trade and Industry Information within the International Trade Administration.

This week the International Trade Administration’s Office of Trade and Industry Information released an annual update to its website for the U.S. Commerce Department’s Exporter Database (EDB) for 2010. This joint project with the U.S. Census Bureau’s Foreign Trade Division is the cornerstone of ITA’s Trade Data Enhancement Initiative, the goal of which is to develop and disseminate improved statistical information on U.S. international trade and its role in the U.S. economy. Additional information on the EDB can be obtained by viewing the U.S. Census Bureau’s Profile of U.S. Exporting Companies, 2009-2010.

In 2010, more than 293,000 U.S. companies exported goods, up 6.0 percent from the revised 2009 estimate of 276,600. In 2010, nearly 98 percent of U.S. exporters (286,661) were small or medium-sized companies (SMEs*) with fewer than 500 employees, a 6.1 percent increase over 2009. Further, the known merchandise export value of SMEs rose to $383.4 billion in 2010, up 24.1 percent from 2009 and this accounted for 33.7 percent of the $1,138 billion total known merchandise export value of all companies.

Known Merchandise Export Value of Trading Companies, 2009 and 2010 in U.S. dollars. All identified companies $940,400,000 in 2009 and $1,137,600,000. SME's $308,900,000 in 2009 and $383,400,000 in 2010. Companies with 500 or more employees $631,500,000 in 2009 and $754,200,000 in 2010.

SME Exports at the State Level

SME exports are concentrated in the largest exporting states, with the top four exporting more than $30 billion from SMEs.  California had the largest value of SME exports ($68.1 billion) in 2010, followed by Texas ($51.2 billion), New York ($34.4 billion), and Florida ($33.6 billion).

SME export value at the state level in U.S. dollars. California: $68,087,967,616, Texas: $51,200,446,724, New York: $34,394,384,363, Florida: $33,557,306,907, New Jersey: $15,122,026,840, Illinois: $14,445,622,703, Pennsylvania: $12,519,691,700, Washington: $11,017,998,632, Michigan: $10,506,510,110, Massachusetts: $10,051,122,079, Ohio: $9,321,029,844, Louisiana: $8,806,538,601, Georgia: $8,448,288,399, Puerto Rico: $7,051,941,052, Minnesota: $5,740,296,134, Oregon: $5,649,311,876, North Carolina: $5,599,660,584, Wisconsin: $5,531,778,198, Connecticut: $5,372,732,418, Indiana: $4,974,567,439, Virginia: $4,139,241,848, Tennessee: $4,023,677,667, Missouri: $3,775,289,203, Arizona: $3,578,474,711, Kentucky: $3,484,101,860, Kansas: $3,258,410,258, Maryland: $2,819,330,154, Colorado: $2,671,823,591, South Carolina: $2,632,285,300, Utah: $2,584,426,888, Alabama: $2,561,215,935, New Hampshire: $1,776,065,210, Iowa: $1,745,671,009, Oklahoma: $1,622,778,640, Nebraska: $1,409,866,973, Mississippi: $1,407,996,974, Nevada: $1,210,149,129, West Virginia: $1,144,895,941, Montana: $1,059,154,716, Rhode Island: $1,054,668,411, Idaho: $1,031,234,308, Maine: $992,455,877, Arkansas: $898,080,029, Delaware: $775,404,661, District Of Columbia: $688,447,135, New Mexico: $680,508,632, North Dakota: $562,363,709, South Dakota: $443,896,862, Alaska: $394,898,004, Hawaii: $161,527,055, Wyoming: $141,245,194, Vermont: No data available for Vermont in 2010.

Note: SME values for Vermont are unavailable for 2010.

However, SME exporters represent a large share of the value of U.S. exports in both small and large states.  79 percent of Montana’s exports in 2010 were from SMEs, the highest share in the nation.  Florida, Rhode Island, Wyoming, and New York all had an SME share of exports over 50% as well.

Selected state SME share of exports: Montana: 79%, Florida: 68%, Rhode Island: 63%,   Wyoming: 56%, New York: 55%.

SME Exporters at the Metropolitan Level

The New York metro area had the largest number of known SME exporters at 32,300, followed closely by Los Angles (32,100), Miami (26,300), Chicago (13,300), and Houston (10,500).  Further world destination break-outs by the European Union-27, NAFTA, ASEAN, and DR-CAFTA are shown below. Other country groupings such as APEC and OPEC can also be accessed using the EDB website.

Number of Known SME Exporting Companies to Select World Regions by Metro. New York Metro: 11,645 to the EU, 10,540 to NAFTA, 2,370 to DR-CAFTA, and 3,436 to ASEAN; Los Angeles Metro: 8,938 to the EU, 12,242 to NAFTA, 1,947 to DR-CAFTA, and 4,548 to ASEAN; Miami Metro: 4,194 to the EU, 3,985 to NAFTA, 5,730 to DR-CAFTA, and 1,234 to ASEAN; Chicago Metro: 4,184 to the EU, 6,639 to NAFTA, 910 to DR-CAFTA, and 1,614 to ASEAN; Houston Metro: 2,640 to the EU, 3,653 to NAFTA, 649 to DR-CAFTA, and 1,740 to ASEAN.

SME Exporters at the Five-Digit Zip Code Level

Of the 25,754 zip-codes in the U.S. reporting at least one SME exporter, nine of these zip-codes reported one thousand or more SME exporters. Miami had the largest concentration in five zip codes (33166, 33172, 33178, 33122, 33126), followed by New York in three zip codes (10036, 10018 and 10001) and Los Angeles in one (90021).  Further, 673 zip-codes reported between 100 – 923 known SME exporters, while the remaining balance of zip codes reported between 1 and 99.

SME Exporters by zip code. In Miami, zip code 33166 has 4,023 SME exporters, zip code   33172 has 2,317 SME exporters, zip code 33178 has 2,033 SME exporters, zip code 33122   has 1,573 SME exporters and zip code 33126 has 1,203 SME exporters. In New York, zip   code 10036 has 1,625 SME exporters, zip code 10036 has 1,354 SME exporters, and zip code   10001 has 1,273 SME exporters. In Los Angeles, zip code 90021 has 1,109 SME exporters.

In closing, the EDB offers a whole host of information on U.S. exporters, not only by company size and type (manufacturers, wholesalers and other non-manufacturing firms) but also by 3 and 4 digit NAICS product codes, and export country destination, etc. This is just a small slice of EDB data available on our website, but we encourage U.S. companies and professionals working in global trade, policy, cooperation and promotion to utilize this snap-shot of 2010 as they continue to map out their strategies for export success in the future.

*SMEs are defined as firms that have fewer than 500 employees. All figures in this overview include only identifiable or “known” exports, i.e., exports that can be linked to individual companies using information on U.S. export declarations.

If you are a small business interested in exporting, this is an invaluable resource.

Tradeology, the ITA Blog

This post contains external links. Please review our external linking policy.

Yuki Fujiyama, a trade finance specialist with the Office of Financial Services Industries in the International Trade Administration, is the author of The Trade Finance Guide: A Quick Reference for U.S. Exporters.

On November 13, 2012 in Philadelphia, we unveiled the third edition of the Trade Finance Guide: A Quick Reference for U.S. Exporters at the 23rd Annual Finance, Credit, and International Business Association (FCIB) Global Conference. Acting U.S. Commerce Deputy Assistant Secretary for Services Industries Carlos F. Montoulieu released the new edition emphasizing that, “This concise and easy-to-understand guide is designed to help U.S. small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) learn quickly how to get paid from export sales in the most effective manner.”

What is the Trade Finance Guide?

The Trade Finance Guide covers 14 subject areas in easy-to-understand two page chapters that are…

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