Grant to help Colorado businesses export

A nearly $200,000 federal grant will help Colorado businesses participate in international trade shows as part of an effort to increase exports.

The U.S. Small Business Administration announced 40 awards worth a collective $17.4 million from its  State Trade and Export  Program (STEP).

The Colorado Office of Economic Development and International Trade received $195,938. The office will use the funding to pay for export training and matching grants to small businesses to offset the costs of participating in targeted trade shows.

Those shows include the ISPO Munich outdoor recreation trade show in Germany, ANTAD Expo retail food show in Mexico, Arab Lab laboratory science and instrumentation trade show in the United Arab Emirates and National Restaurant Association trade show for specialized beverages for international restaurants in Chicago.

“We are excited to be working with the Small Business Administration in executing our STEP-funded programs and services to help Colorado’s small businesses realize international sales,” said Sandi Moilanen, director of the international trade division of the  Colorado Office of Economic Development and International Trade.

“Our program targets key industries for Colorado and provides multiple ways for our small business community to reach international buyers,” Moilanen added.

SBA Administrator Maria Contreras-Sweet said the program provides resources to help small businesses tap global markets.

“By funding states and their export development partners, the SBA is delivering the tools and resources required for small businesses to launch their services and products abroad,” Contreras-Sweet said. “With 95 percent of the world’s consumers living outside of the United States, SBA’s STEP program ensures that America’s small businesses can succeed in the 21st century global economy.”

STEP grants are designed to increase the number of small businesses exporting goods and services as well as the value of goods and services already exported. Funds cover training and marketing campaigns as well as participation in sales trips, trade shows and trade missions.

Recipients in the first two rounds of STEP awards in the 2011 and 2012 fiscal years reported a return of $19 for $1 invested in the program. Colorado reported a return of $102 for every $1 invested in the program those two years.