SBA Awards Puerto Rico Trade & Export Co. $385K to Expand Opportunities for Small Businesses
Funding comes from part of State Trade Expansion Program
SAN JUAN – The U.S. Small Business Administration announced that the newest round of awards to support export growth through its State Trade Expansion (STEP) grant program, the federal agency is providing $384,930 to the Puerto Rico Trade & Export Co.
STEP awards are managed and provided at the local level by state government organizations, which often issues them on a reimbursement basis. The program is managed at the national level by the SBA’s Office of International Trade (OIT).
The award will be further increased with an additional $128,310 in matching funds, according to the agency’s news release, which says its portion represents an increase in STEP funding to Puerto Rico by almost $85,000 over fiscal year 2019’s amount.
“The opportunities for small businesses to grow through exporting are substantial, especially during this unprecedented time. The COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in a paradigm shift to increased web-based sales and virtual trade missions,” SBA Regional Administrator Steve Bulger, who oversees the federal agency’s operations in the Atlantic and Mid-Atlantic regions, said in the release. “Ninety-six percent of a small business’ potential customers live outside the U.S. and two-thirds of the world’s purchasing power is in foreign countries.”
The STEP program is designed to meet three distinctive goals.
“The first is to increase the number of small businesses that export not only throughout Puerto Rico, but around the nation,” Bulger said.
“The second is to increase the value of exports for small businesses while the final goal is to increase the number of small businesses exploring significant new trade opportunities,” the release reads, with Bulger adding: “Expanding the base of small business exporters throughout the Region, while making the process as easy as possible, is a key component of the Trump Administration’s small business strategy.”
“Through the STEP program, the SBA is making additional funding available to Puerto Rico’s small businesses community. These vital dollars will not only help expand small firm’s customer bases throughout the world, but the funding awarded to the Puerto Rico Trade and Export Company will help our island small businesses thrive in the global marketplace while increasing their revenues,” said SBA Puerto Rico Acting District Director María de los Ángeles de Jesús.
Since the beginning of the STEP program 10 years ago, approximately $157 million in grants have been awarded, the SBA said of the program for states to assist small businesses with information and tools “to succeed in export-related activities that are in line with the objectives of the program.”
The SBA said the approved STEP funds can assist Puerto Rico small businesses with:
· Participation in programmed foreign trade missions
· Subscription to services provided by the Department of Commerce
· Trade show exhibition (international and qualified domestic trade shows)
· Participation in export training workshops
· Qualified foreign market sales trips
For additional information about small business exporting resources, visit www.sba.gov/exporting. For more information about the STEP program and other export resources provided by the SBA, visit the SBA’s business guide to exporting products.