Maui Business

State Steps Up Export Promotion to China

September 29, 2011, 12:45 PM HST
* Updated September 29, 1:25 PM
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By Sonia Isotov

Buying missions and showrooms are among the new targeted activities that the state is going to use to promote and develop small business exporters in Hawaii, especially to China.

The Hawaii State Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism (DBEDT) has received a $485,719 grant from the US Small Business Administration (SBA) to build Hawaii’s State Trade and Export Promotion Program, known as “HiSTEP.”  With a multi-faceted approach to preparing exporters along with a menu of targeted activities, the program is designed to generate new export sales for participating small businesses from key industry sectors.

DBEDT Director Richard C. Lim. Photo courtesy of DBEDT.

The grant from the SBA will cover 65 to 75% of DBEDT’s program costs. The total budget for HiSTEP is $859,868.  The state and its partners will provide the additional $374,149 in cash and in-kind services.

“HiSTEP will provide specialized resources designed specifically to enable eligible small Hawaii businesses to grow their export sales and enter new international markets,” said DBEDT Director Richard Lim, in a written statement yesterday.  “The primary goal of the program is to expand and elevate export-oriented programs throughout Hawaii. We will thereby grow our small businesses’ productive, innovative and competitive edge in the world while helping to build a sustainable economy here at home.”

Jane Sawyer, SBA Hawaii District Director. Photo courtesy of SBA Hawaii.


“HiSTEP’s multi-faceted approach will offer expanded resources, referrals and results to help many companies at different stages of international trade — from thinking about entry to a new market, to research and contacts to completing transactions,” said Jane Sawyer, SBA District Director.


HiSTEP and its public and private partners have planned the following activities:

  • Export readiness sessions to prepare new and existing exporters to participate in the HiSTEP Program activities.  Forums and workshops will be conducted by the US Export Assistance Center and the Hawaii Pacific Export Council.
  • Development of a Hawaii Pavilion at the 2012 Bio International Convention in partnership with the Economic Development Alliance of Hawaii and the county economic development boards.
  • Buying mission from China for made-in-Hawaii products.
  • Establishment of a “Hawaii House” showroom of Hawaii products in Shanghai.
  • The current high-tech mission to Hong Kong, Shenzen, Shanghai, Beijing and Singapore in partnership with HiBEAM.

Hawaii is one of 47 states that received a STEP grant, in addition to the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, Guam, the Northern Mariana Islands, and the Virgin Islands.

DBEDT’s partners in the HiSTEP program include the State of Hawaii Offices in Beijing and Taiwan, Natural Energy Lab of Hawaii, High Technology Development Corporation, Hawaii Department of Agriculture, US Export Assistance Center, Hawaii Pacific Export Council, Small Business Administration, Small Business Development Centers, Hawaii Business and Entrepreneur Acceleration Mentors (HiBEAM), Economic Development Alliance of Hawaii and the county Economic Development Boards.

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