The Montana Department of Commerce announced today that $600,000 of federal grant funding is now available to help small Montana businesses accelerate and grow international sales. The federal funding, from the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA), will be administered through Export Montana’s State Trade Expansion Program (STEP).
“As much as 95% of the world’s consumers and 70% of the world’s purchasing power are outside the USA,” Montana Department of Commerce Director Scott Osterman said. “Companies who sell their products overseas dramatically increase their consumer base, level out sales cycles, and hedge against domestic sales slumps. Furthermore, on average, our state’s exporters pay 17% higher wages to their hard-working Montana employees – a sign of true success. That’s why we work so hard to encourage new exporters and to support those already selling into international markets, providing the STEP grant and other support along the way.”
The STEP grant, through Commerce’s Export Montana, will be used to support foreign trade missions, a subscription to U.S. Department of Commerce services, payment of website fees, design of marketing media, costs surrounding trade show exhibition, and export training workshops.
Eligible Montana exporters can apply for 50 percent reimbursement of up to $10,000 for eligible marketing activities such as trade show exhibition, market research, U.S. commercial service programs, and foreign language translation. Other eligible marketing activities include international compliance testing, intellectual property protection, digital marketing, and travel stipend. Eligible applicants may receive up to $30,000 in STEP awards per year.
This month, Export Montana will offer a “Grants for International Sales” training webinar on the STEP grant and international marketing activities.
Since 2011, Montana has received $4.9 million in STEP grant funds from the SBA, matching with $1.6 million in state funds, and has awarded 855 grants with a return on investment of $644 million, and supported 1,146 jobs.
The current amount of available grant funding is expected to assist an estimated 241 exporters with international sales activities and training and contribute approximately $11 million in total export sales.
In 2021, Montana exported $3.3 billion of products, including top exported products like cereals, mineral fuel, inorganic chemicals, meat, and industrial machinery. The top countries that Montana companies export to are Canada, Mexico, Korea, Japan, and China.