SBA pumps $1M into statewide small-biz exports

Thinking big: The U.S. Small Business Administration is helping small businesses across New York State target international customers.

The U.S. Small Business Administration, via the Empire State Development Corp., is infusing nearly $1 million into statewide international-trade programs.

The SBA announced this week that the ESDC, Albany’s main economic-development engine, is one of the 47 state international-trade agencies receiving funding this year through the State Trade and Export Promotion program.

The total of $18 million in national STEP funding is meant to help small businesses enter and compete in the global marketplace. Specifically, the STEP program has three goals: to increase the number of small U.S. businesses exporting goods or services, to increase the value of those exports and to increase the number of small businesses exploring potentially significant trade opportunities.

Small Business Administration head Linda McMahon called the annual STEP awards “an important resource that provides small businesses with the confidence and funding they need to thrive in this competitive international market.”

“The SBA is committed to ensuring equal access for small businesses to international markets and expanding export opportunities, and ensuring small businesses have the resources they need to drive their businesses and local communities forward,” the SBA administrator said.

Linda McMahon: Competitive advantage.

Launched in 2011, the STEP program has already helped several Long Island businesses find their international footing. That includes Hauppauge-based fiber-optic specialist Telebyte, which used its 2017 funding to “penetrate the Chinese marketplace,” according to the SBA.

“As a small business, [STEP’s] assistance with flights, arrangements, language translations, currency, logistics, tradeshow forums and more made the difference between making the trip and staying home,” Victoria Twomey, Telebyte’s sales and marketing director, said in a statement. “We already have (Chinese) customers who made a commitment to placing orders and we anticipate sales over the next year to be in excess of $200,000.”

Since the STEP program was launched by the Obama administration seven years ago, approximately $138 million in grants have been awarded to fund export opportunities and increase the footprint of American small businesses in countries all over the world.

Including this year’s stipend, the STEP program has now funneled more than $4.5 million through the ESDC to New York-based small businesses.

Beth Goldberg, district director of the New York SBA District Office, referenced several positive statistics stemming from the STEP effort and said the Small Business Administration is “excited to make [the 2018] award to further New York’s export efforts,” particularly with “95 percent of the world’s customers [living] outside the United States.”

Among the glowing numbers: $75.3 billion worth of New York-produced goods exported to foreign customers in 2017 and “nearly 300,000 U.S. jobs supported by New York State exports,” according to Goldberg.

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