Maui Business

SBA, State Agencies Coordinating Trade, Export Promotion Grant

March 1, 2011, 11:30 AM HST
* Updated March 1, 11:35 AM
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By Sonia Isotov

The Hawaii District Small Business Administration (SBA), the Hawaii Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism (DBEDT), and  several state and federal agencies, are meeting today to plan application of a multi-million dollar, federal small business exporting grant.

Administered thru the local SBA office, DBEDT will be making the application which will bring together numerous Hawaii government agencies, including the High Technology Development Corporation, the International Trade Agency, and the Foreign Trade Zone.

Jane A. Sawyer, District Director, Hawaii District Office, U.S. Small Business Administration. Photo courtesy of U.S. SBA.

Jane Sawyer, the Hawaii District SBA Director, said today, “Hawaii offers so much more than a product in volume for retail when it comes to exporting. Hawaii offers expertise and value-added specializations in areas such as travel and tourism, technology, and education. This is the message we want to get out thru trade missions, marketing campaigns, trade shows, and other programs.”

Sawyer continued to say that encouraging local small businesses to think about exporting their products and services to emerging markets in South America and China and “expanding on how we think about exporting is going to be a cornerstone to the plan we are putting together.”


The State Trade and Export Promotion (STEP) grant initiative is a pilot program established by the Small Business Jobs Act of 2010. The Jobs Act authorized up to $90 million for this initiative spread out over three fiscal years, $30 million each year, beginning with the current fiscal year 2011.


Awards are granted on a competitive basis and individual state project award amounts can vary based on each state’s proposed project plan and budget. States may submit more than one application, but can apply each federal fiscal year through the 3-year term of the pilot grant initiative.

SBA Administrator Karen Mills said in a statement today that “the global market offers countless opportunities for small business owners who are well positioned to grow their volume and customer base beyond our borders, and in doing so, create good-paying jobs in their local communities. These grants, through the partnerships they will create at the state level, will strengthen the support available to help small business take that first step to begin exporting, and for those who are already exporting, grow into additional markets.”

Activities that can be supported with grant dollars under this initiative may include: participation in foreign trade missions, foreign market sales trips, subscription services provided by USDOC, design of international marketing products or campaigns, export trade show exhibits, training workshops or other export initiatives that are in line with the goals.


The STEP pilot grant initiative announcement will be posted at on March 1, 2011. The application period will be March 1 through April 26. Awards for the first year of the grant program will be issued in summer of 2011. See more information at

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