Three-year Pilot Program Aids CA Small Business Trade and Export

Friday, August 12, 2016

The State Trade and Export Promotion (STEP) Program is a three-year pilot trade and export initiative authorized by the Small Business Jobs Act of 2010. Funded by federal grants and matching funds from the states, the STEP Program is designed to help increase the number of small businesses that are exporting and to raise the value of exports for those small businesses that are currently exporting so they can grow and create jobs.

Goals of the STEP Progam:

  • If you are exporting: to help your business export more.
  • If you are not exporting: to help you get started.

California Highlights

The project will conduct about twenty-four unique export promotion activities including domestic and market-focused marketing campaigns, customized product/promotion localization assistance, matchmaking services connecting small businesses to potential customers, and follow up support to assist firms in closing deals. These export projects involve multiple partners.

How STEP Grants Will Help Small Businesses

The STEP grants will help provide:

  • support for small business participation in foreign trade missions and foreign market sales trips;
  • subscription to services by the Department of Commerce;
  • website translation fees;
  • design of international marketing media;
  • trade show exhibitions;
  • participation in training workshops;
  • financial support for training to become “export ready”; and
  • other export initiatives determined to be appropriate by the SBA.

Small Business Administration Eligibility Guidelines

  • Comply with SBA size standards found at 13 C.F.R. Part 121
  • Been in business for not less than the 1-year period ending on the date on which assistance is provided under a STEP grant
  • Operating and incorporated in the United States
  • Demonstrated understanding of the costs associated with exporting and doing business with foreign purchasers, including the costs of freight forwarding, customs brokers, packing and shipping
  • Have in effect a strategic plan for exporting (CITDs/USEACs/SBDCs may help them to develop this)

California STEP can help you answer:

  • What opportunities are there for my firm to connect with overseas buyers in California?
  • How can my firm maximize our marketing efforts through trade shows abroad?
  • Who can I contact to shorten my time for export assistance?
  • What opportunities exist for my firm to get specialized export training and assistance?

The California STEP partners include:

  • California Governor's Office of Business and Economic Development (GO-Biz)
  • California Chamber of Commerce
  • California Department of Food & Agriculture
  • California Community Colleges' Centers for International Trade Development (CITD) at:
    • El Camino College
    • Los Rios Community College District
    • Long Beach City College
    • Rancho Santiago Community College District
    • Riverside Community College District
    • State Center Community College District
    • Southwestern College
  • Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce
  • Los Angeles County Business Federation (BizFed)
  • University of California, Los Angeles Anderson School of Management, Center for International Business & Education Research
  • University of Southern California Marshall School of Business
  • World Trade Center San Diego

For more information and to learn how to apply for STEP funding for your export initiative, visit the California STEP web page.

To take advantage of these benefits, contact Jeff Williamson, California STEP Project Director, at or (909) 556-6639.


Funded in part through a grant award with the SBA.

Category: Economic Development, International Trade

Tags: International Trade, Trade and Export, Small Business Administration, STEP Program, Economic Development