Governor Laura Kelly today applauded the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) announcement of a $163,617 award to the Kansas Department of Commerce’s International Division through SBA’s competitive State Trade Expansion Program (STEP).

Through STEP, states competitively apply for and receive financial awards to assist small businesses in their state with export development.

“International business is a significant economic driver for our state, which is why one of my first acts as Governor was to reinstate the International Division at the Department of Commerce,” Governor Kelly said. “Thanks to their strong efforts, Kansas is more competitive on a global scale when it comes to businesses recruitment. This grant will support the International Division’s ongoing efforts to grow exports, create jobs, and build a better, more resilient economy in Kansas.”

State agencies like the Kansas Department of Commerce offer STEP funds to eligible small businesses interested in entering new markets; attending international trade shows and missions; seeking potential international partners; marketing to international customers; and much more.

“There’s no question that broadening the exporter base and increasing export values and volumes boosts our economy,” Lieutenant Governor and Commerce Secretary David Toland said. “The International Division has been truly exceptional in assisting Kansas exporters, and the awarding of this grant is more proof of the effectiveness of those efforts and Kansas Commerce’s strong momentum.”

Since the program’s inception, more than 200 Kansas small businesses have participated and achieved more than $43 million in actual export sales.

“The STEP program has been instrumental in assisting our small- and medium-sized companies competing in global markets,” International Division Director Jeff Willis said. “We are looking forward to working with the SBA and Kansas businesses to increase the value of our exports and the number of Kansas exporters.”

Due to the competitive nature of the STEP application process, the application covers two years — a base year and a continuation year. The base year is competitive by nature, with states receiving funding for pre-planned activities and based on their previous expense of the funds. Not all states are entitled to a second (continuation) year. A second year is awarded at the discretion of the SBA, which makes its determination based on which states would maximize the use of the funds. Kansas did receive grant funding for a second year in 2022.

To learn more about the STEP program, visit Kansas Department of Commerce and the U.S. Small Business Administration.

About SBA STEP Grants 

The SBA began administering STEP in 2011 as part of federal legislation encouraging trade. STEP is designed to help small businesses take advantage of these opportunities by increasing the number of small businesses that export, the value of their exports and the number of small businesses that explore significant new trade opportunities. Since the creation of the STEP program, SBA has awarded grants to fund export opportunities to increase the footprint of small businesses in countries all over the world. 

About the Kansas Department of Commerce

As the state’s lead economic development agency, the Kansas Department of Commerce strives to empower individuals, businesses and communities to achieve prosperity in Kansas. Commerce accomplishes its mission by developing relationships with corporations, site location consultants and stakeholders in Kansas, nationwide and worldwide. Our strong partnerships allow us to help create an environment for existing Kansas businesses to grow and foster an innovative, competitive landscape for new businesses.