Utah receives record-high grant of over $1M to help small businesses expand overseas

Downtown Salt Lake City is pictured on Monday, Oct. 12, 2020. World Trade Center Utah will receive a record-high State Trade Expansion Program grant of $1,050,000 to be distributed to small Utah businesses to grow internationally. (Steve Griffin, Deseret News)

SALT LAKE CITY — World Trade Center Utah will receive a record-high State Trade Expansion Program grant of $1,050,000 to be distributed to small Utah businesses to grow internationally, the U.S. Small Business Administration announced Tuesday.

Over the past three years, the Small Business Administration has increased Utah’s grant from $300,000 to $1,050,000, the largest increase in any state nationwide. This is largely because small Utah businesses have been so successful in using the previous grants to increase their international sales and opportunities.

The grant is designed to help small businesses expand into global markets through exports. The funds can be used to cover costs like travel, international market design, services provided by the U.S. Department of Commerce, website optimization, translation, trade show exhibitions and export training programs. Connecting small businesses with the funds to export internationally is essential to grow revenue in the state and boost local economies. Since 2010, STEP has awarded approximately $4 million in grants to fund export opportunities and increase the footprint of small businesses in countries all over the world.

World Trade Center Utah and the Governor’s Office of Economic Opportunity work together to administer the grant and provide small businesses with financial support and business services to travel internationally and adjust their operations in order to become solid competitors in global markets.

“The success and impact of the STEP grant program in Utah over the last several years has been inspirational,” said Marla Trollan, SBA Utah district director in a press release. “International trade has been a high priority for me since I came to the SBA in 2017. We have collaborated with the World Trade Center on many initiatives, and I am proud of what we have been able to achieve together. The substantial increase in grant funding is a direct result of these efforts.”

Utah’s export growth rate has been ranked highest in the nation for the past two years, and 85% of those export companies are small businesses. International sales from these small business exporters add $5 billion in revenue across the state.

“The STEP Grant is the backbone of Utah’s international trade program and plays a key role in the business community by elevating Utah’s international efforts,” said Nicole Sherwood, director of grants & operations and STEP project director. “I have seen firsthand Utah small businesses increase global trade and commerce with a STEP Grant and I am excited to see what the coming year will bring in regards to international expansion through this massive increase in our STEP grant funding.”

Harvest Lane Honey, a Utah small business, received a previous grant and used it to expand into Canada and print French onto its packaging to better appeal to the French-speaking population there. The business’s CEO and founder Mindy Waite stated that the expansion would not have been possible without the grant.

“Utah is home to a large number of small businesses expanding and doing business globally. This grant will be a huge help to many of them,” said Dan Hemmert, executive director of the Utah Governor’s Office of Economic Opportunity. “Thanks to the U.S. Small Business Administration for funding the STEP grant and World Trade Center Utah for administering the funds.”

Applications for the grant for the 2021 fiscal year will open Oct. 1, at wtcutah.com.

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