State Trade Expansion Program

From the U.S. Small Business Administration

What Is STEP?

The State Trade Expansion Program (STEP) helps increase the number of small businesses that export and increases export value for those already doing so. This program is made possible by grants from the U.S. Small Business Administration and administered at the state level.


STEP grants help businesses defray the cost to market internationally and assist with identifying and serving potential international buyers.


STEP usually takes the form of $3,000 to $5,000 grants that operate on a reimbursement basis for qualified small businesses. This means that successful applicants are reimbursed for eligible expenses when their project or activity has been completed.


In some cases, a 25% to 100% company match of the maximum reimbursement allowed is required for each activity funded through STEP.


What Can I Use STEP For?

STEP can support many projects that help you grow your exports. These include:

  • Website translation and search engine optimization activities
  • Adaptation of eCommerce websites to serve cross-border customers
  • Preparation and launch of cross-border digital marketing campaigns
  • Market research
  • Domestic and international trade shows
  • International sales trips
  • U.S. Department of Commerce match-marketing programs
  • Third-party product compliance testing
  • Translation services for hard copy materials

In most states, STEP can be used by companies that aim to export goods or services, both business-to-business (B2B) or direct to consumers (B2C).


Am I Eligible?

Eligibility criteria vary between states. The first thing you should do is check the eligibility criteria in your state (see the “STEP Administrators” tab to find what organization administers the STEP grants in your state).


Usually, however, applicants must operate a business in their state that has been in business for more than a year, that qualifies as a small business entity, and that manufactures and/or distributes a product or provides an exportable service.


Below you will find a few questions that may help you determine if you fulfill the basic requirements for receiving STEP funds. This is not a guarantee of acceptance. 

  1. Has your company been in business for at least one year as of today?
  2. Does your business meet SBA’s definition of a small business? (The SBA assigns a size standard to each NAICS code. Most manufacturing companies with 500 employees or fewer, and most non-manufacturing businesses with average annual receipts under $7.5 million, will qualify as a small business. You can use the Size Standards Tool to find out.)
  3. Does your business sell products or services with either U.S. origin or that have at least 51% or more U.S. content?
  4. Are you a for-profit company?
  5. Assuming the opportunity is verified, would you have sufficient resources to bear the costs associated with exporting?

If you answer “yes” to all of the above questions, we invite you to schedule a complimentary call with our free government-funded grant expert to walk you through the application process.


Where Do I Start?

First, look at our STEP-ready offers (in the STEP Offers tab) to find potential projects and partners that qualify for STEP.


Once you have identified a potential project that a STEP grant could power, contact the organization that serves as STEP administrator in your state.


Organization Information

Business Address

Business Phone


Primary Contact