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 $7,000 per fiscal year, per company. Delaware companies can receive funding for a maximum of three times, per country market, in a five-year period. 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 $7,000.
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, and you were awarded $7,000 in STEP grant funds, you may submit a reimbursement request for $5,000 (50% of the cost).
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.
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 Guidelines
Please note that STEP Grant funds may only be used to cover the expenses of one traveler per company. An exception may be made if the second traveler is a technical person who is needed to facilitate sales.
Training Workshops (related to export policies, regulations and/or best practices)
Trade mission fees
Fees for U.S. Department of Commerce Services such as Gold Key Business Matchmaking Service, Single Company Promotions, International Partner Searches
Currency exchange fees
Fees for shipping sample products (capped at $4,000)
Cost of compliance testing an existing product for entry into an export market (capped at $6,000)
Export research tool subscription used to assist STEP Clients with market research (capped at $2,000 per award year)
Website translation into a foreign language, search engine optimization, and localization services (capped at $6,000)
Design of marketing media related to a trade mission or trade show (capped at $8,000) commensurate with STEP’s statutory objectives deemed appropriate and approved in advance by SBA (Examples include trade event publications, online advertising during a trade event, brochures, social media sales campaigns, table banners, event website advertising, billboards, newspapers, banners, and other print media)
Export conferences, meetings, symposiums, or training programs that pertain to STEP’s statutory objectives deemed appropriate and approved in advance by SBA
Services from a local American Chamber of Commerce (AMCHAM)
Procurement of a consultancy service (after consultation with the U.S. Department of Commerce)
STEP Grant Unallowable Expense Reimbursements:
Passport or visa fees
Expenses related to entertaining current or prospective clients or government officials
New product development or alteration of existing products
Cellphones and cellphone charges
Television and radio production
Efforts to create or augment marketing and advertising campaigns to draw international visitors to a State
Cost for printing marketing materials
Cost for development and/or design of a website for a company
Cost for enhancement and/or development of an existing company’s product
Costs associated with individuals attendance at meetings, conferences, and symposiums
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
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.