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Connecticut STEP Program Taking Applications Through Sept. 15

  • Program through the Connecticut Department of Economic and Community Development looks to increase exporting activity among Connecticut small businesses
  • Qualifying businesses can receive up to $15,000 per program year
  • Grant funds can be used for a variety of purposes to defray the costs of selling their products and services abroad

Summary by Dirk Langeveld

Connecticut small businesses looking to bring their products and services to an international market have until Sept. 15 to apply for a grant that can be used to offset certain export costs.

The State Trade Expansion Program, overseen by the Department of Economic and Community Development, aims to increase the value of Connecticut’s small business exports, increase the number of Connecticut small businesses that export goods, and increase the number of small businesses exploring “significant new trade opportunities.” The grant is funded in part through the U.S. Small Business Administration.

Businesses receiving the grant can use it for several activities involved in exporting their products, including trade show show expenses, interpreter fees, website translation, and export training registration fees. Certain costs are ineligible, such as travel and accommodations, employee wages, or new product development expenses. The grant also establishes caps on how much money can be put toward any one activity.

Applicants can receive 75 percent of eligible expenses up to a maximum of $7,500 per activity, capped at $15,000 per company per program year. This stipulation indicates that a business is still able to engage in and apply for more than one STEP activity in a program year.

In order to be eligible, an applicant must meet conditions that include:

  • Being registered in Connecticut to manufacture, assemble, and/or distribute a product, or provide a service that is exportable
  • Qualify as an “eligible small business concern” based on their NAICS code and SBA size standards
  • In business for at least one year before STEP assistance is received
  • Have a demonstrated knowledge of costs involved in exporting and doing biz with foreign purchasers, and access to resources to meet them
  • Seek to export goods or services of U.S. origin, or goods or services that have at least 51% U.S. content
  • Not disbarred, suspended, or otherwise facing barriers to working with any federal department or agency

Applications are due by Sept. 15, and completion of approved activities must occur by Sept. 29. Businesses must provide the DECD with reimbursement documentation by Oct. 13.

All applications are reviewed by the DECD, and funding disbursed, on a first come, first serve basis.

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