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State Receives Trade Expansion Grant to Help MT Businesses Gain Exposure to International Markets

The Montana Department of Commerce announced Thursday it has been awarded a federal grant of more than $525,000 to help Montana-made businesses export and promote products to international markets.

Granted by the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA), the State Trade Expansion Program (STEP) grant will be used to sponsor Montana businesses at international tradeshows to help develop partnerships between Montana businesses and international buyers, leading to business growth. The grant will also support training and technical assistance including foreign language translation and international product certification for small business exporters.

“Montana’s innovative products are sought after,” Commerce Director Tara Rice said. “This STEP grant will support Montana businesses as they grow and thrive through global exposure, all the way from being a start-up business to becoming an international exporter.”

During the 2019 legislative session, lawmakers passed and Governor Steve Bullock signed HB 52 which allocated $300,000 for Commerce’s Export Montana program. It’s this state appropriation which is used as the required STEP grant match. During the last fiscal year, nearly 400 Montana businesses were supported through grants, training and consultation made possible by this funding. Those business in turn generated more than $25 million in sales from market development activities. 

In 2019, Montana exported more than $2.5 billion worth of commodities and bulk agricultural goods, strengthening the state’s economy and fueling business growth. Montana’s top five commodity trading partners last year were Canada, South Korea, Mexico, Japan and China.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, international trade has been disrupted. In response to this, the SBA has adapted its STEP grant to include marketing activities for business, so they can continue to promote their products through digital channels. This year, Montana’s STEP grant has updated its guidelines to support those marketing activities including:

  • International website globalization and e-Commerce fees are now eligible grant activities with a maximum grant of $10,000.

  • International digital marketing fees is another new eligible activity with a maximum grant of $6,000.

The new activities, along with all previous activities, are now eligible for up to a 75 percent reimbursement, an increase from the previous 50 percent reimbursement. Learn more at EXPORTMONTANA.COM.

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