The State Trade Expansion Program (STEP) Grant offers eligible Delaware businesses assistance to help launch or expand export activity. Grant funds can be used to reimburse Delaware businesses for up to 50 percent of all pre-approved, eligible, export marketing expenses, up to a maximum of $10,000 per fiscal year, per company. For more information, contact the Export Delaware Team.
Here are some examples of how you can use STEP Grant funds to expand your exports:
Booth fees for exhibiting at a tradeshow overseas
Travel expenses (hotel and airfare) for visiting potential clients or distributors in another country
Fees to work with the US Commercial Service on International Partner Search
Fees associated with obtaining your CE Mark
Expenses for translating your product manual into another language
Expenses for optimizing and localizing your website for a foreign market
In addition to these activities, Delaware Small Businesses may participate in Export Delaware’s Business Trips. These trips are an excellent opportunity to meet face-to-face with distributors and potential customers – all with the assistance of seasoned global trade experts. Travel expenses on these trips are eligible for reimbursement through the STEP Grant. Click here to learn more.
Note, to be eligible to receive a STEP Grant, your business must have a physical operation and employees in Delaware and meet additional requirements listed below.
How it Works
Delaware Small Businesses who need financial assistance expanding into new international markets are encouraged to apply for a STEP Grant.
Apply: Apply by completing a STEP Grant Application. List the amount of funds you are requesting on your application. Note the maximum grant award amount you may be eligible for is $10,000.
Award: If your business meets the SBA STEP Grant requirements, and there are funds available, you will be awarded a STEP Grant to move forward on the project. All expenses must be pre-approved by Export Delaware, so be sure not to incur any expenses before you receive final award from our office.
Project Execution and Payment: Go about your international business and keep a good record of your expenses along the way. Note what expenses are allowable and unallowable per the SBA STEP Grant Guidelines below.
Reimbursement: Once the project/trip is complete, you can submit your reimbursement request to Export Delaware per the STEP Grant guidelines. You will be reimbursed 50% of the costs associated with your project, as long as they meet the requirements. For example, if the project costs $10,000, you may submit a reimbursement request for $5,000 (50% of the cost). View the Expense Reimbursement Instructions here.
Report Sales: You will be required to report on any new sales achieved as a result of the project/trip up to 18 months after your STEP grant award.
Note, Delaware companies can receive funding for a maximum of three times, per country market, in a five-year period.
Does My Business Qualify?
To qualify for STEP Grant funds, your business must meet the size requirements of the SBA (listed here), and the goods or services your organization that you will promote on this trip must be of US origin OR have at least 51% US content.
In addition, you must meet the following requirements:
Operate in Delaware at a Delaware street address
Be in business longer than one year
Have an export plan
Be determined export-ready by Export Delaware
STEP Grant Allowable Expenses
Click each item category below to find out which expenses are allowable (and unallowable). If you have questions about whether an expense is eligible, please get in touch with Export Delaware before incurring any expenses.
International trade shows where your business is exhibiting or have one-on-one business meetings with prospects at the show. If you are attending to walk the show, or speak at the show, this activity is not eligible for STEP Grant Funds reimbursement.
All registration fees for an in-person trade show booth
All registration fees for an in-person a virtual trade show booth
Raw booth space (can be purchased and reimbursed up to 1 year prior to the trade show)
Design costs of the booth – this may include or is limited to: signage, furniture costs, graphics
Trade show catalog listing fees
Trade show advertising fees
Airfare costs for one traveler per company (economy only on U.S. carriers) – airfare must be in compliance with the Fly America Act, which requires a US flagship carrier for all travel unless there is no service to that destination *airfare can be purchased and reimbursed up to 6 months prior to trade show
Consultant fees, market research fees, certification, and compliance testing fees for the following projects.
Design a market entry strategy for an eligible small business
Provide a customized, market research for an eligible small business
Provide long-term market entry growth strategies for an eligible small business
Assist with compliance testing for products to enter a foreign market. This can include, but not limited to: CE Mark certification, ISO certification, RoHS certification, ITAR certification by the DDTC, State Dept., EAR licensing and certification fees by the BIS, US Dept. of Commerce
Consultant fees that duplicate US Department of Commerce’s services
Fees incurred for export credit insurance policy (including EXIM Bank fees and private sector providers)
Monthly “pay-as-you-go” fees from EXIM Bank
Initial annual premium from private providers
Foreign buyer credit reports
Funded in part through a Grant with the U.S. Small Business Administration.
“Funds were provided to visit our two distributors in China and have meetings at key accounts. This account will help generate a large percentage of sales over the next several years.”
– Stephanie Rosenberg, Advanced Materials Tech
“This program helps us meet existing, and develop new, distribution channels, for our products. The two largest, medical trade shows in the world were part of our itineraries. This provided a great opportunity to gain market intelligence. The STEP grant, and all the other excellent support we receive from Export Delaware, has been an invaluable aid to our expansion overseas.”
– Andy Wood, LiteCure
“Export Delaware and the SBA are very helpful to small businesses who want to export. They have a great team, who are ready to help.”
– Naresh Batta, Batta Environmental
“The folks at Export Delaware have been very helpful with our efforts to reach prospects outside of the US by taking away the fear of the unknown.”
Jeff Palmer, OASIS Inspection Systems
Additional Funding For Export Activities
Additional capital resources are available from the federal government and other organizations for export activities. Options range from tax credits to low interest loans, and other financing plans. Search here to find the right option for your business.
Name of Incentive: International Trade Loan Program
Issuing Organization: SBA
Details: Loans available to small businesses in a position to expand existing export markets or develop new export markets, or that have been adversely affected by import competition and can demonstrate that the loan proceeds will improve their competitive position.