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Vermont Receives $249,000 Award to Help Small Business Expand Trade

The Vermont Agency of Commerce and Community Development has announced that it received a $249,000 exporting grant to assist small businesses in the state. The grant is awarded through the U.S. Small Business Administration’s (SBA) State Trade Expansion Program (STEP), a federal-state partnership initiative to increase the number of small businesses exporting their products.

Vermont’s exports and imports accounted for approximately $5.8 billion in 2021, international trade accounts for 17 percent of the state’s gross domestic product. Since 95 percent of the world’s consumers and two-thirds of all purchasing power are located outside the United States, this grant program plays a critical role in providing access to capital, access to markets, and access to buyers.

“STEP has become a vital resource for Vermont small businesses,” said Darcy Carter, SBA Vermont District Director. “It assists small business reach every corner of the globe, but most importantly it opens the gate to Vermont’s largest trading partner, which is neighboring Canada. Vermont exported $830 million in goods to Canada in 2021 and STEP makes it a little easier for small businesses to access that vast market.”

The Department of Economic Development, a department of the Vermont Agency of Commerce and Community Development, oversees and manages Vermont’s STEP grant. Eligible small businesses may apply for funds to offset the costs associated with entering or expanding into international markets. Expenses for activities related to participation in foreign trade missions, export training and compliance, and developing company websites and advertising campaigns to meet the international market may be eligible for reimbursements up to 75 percent.

“Receiving this STEP award at a time when in-person sales and travel activities are ramping back up allows us to continue to help Vermont businesses recover and grow,” said Joan Goldstein, Commissioner of the Department of Economic Development. “We are pleased to be able to deploy these funds to our small businesses once again and encourage eligible companies to consider incorporating STEP-approved export activities into their growth strategies.”

This marks the tenth year of STEP, which has awarded over $215 million to U.S. states and territories since the program was established in 2010. Vermont has received an award in each of the ten consecutive rounds of funding, totaling more than $2.5 million. Individual state award amounts vary based on proposed project plans and budgets. The SBA awarded $20 million in STEP grants to 52 states and territories in 2022.

The Vermont STEP grants are awarded on a rolling basis and businesses can apply now. For full details on eligibility and the application process, visit www.accd.vermont.gov/STEP.                                                                                                                                                               

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