On December 7, U.S. Sens. Tom Carper and Chris Coons (both D-Del.) visited The Soap Fairy, a manufacturer of handcrafted soaps that takes part in the Small Business Administration's State Trade and Export Promotion (STEP) Program. Nationally and in Delaware, exports are a growing part of the small business economy. The U.S. Small Business Administration supports this initiative through its Export Loan program and grants authorized by the Small Business Jobs Act of 2010, under the State Trade and Export Promotion Program (STEP).
The Delaware STEP grant was nearly $250 thousand last year and another $187 thousand has been authorized for 2013 to be used to help Delaware small businesses start or increase exports. The participants from 2012 have already identified opportunities for more than $3 million in additional sales.
"Exports create jobs in Delaware--that's what this program is about," said Governor Markell. "The STEP initiative provides efficient tools to help hardworking small business owners find new opportunities for growth. We're excited to continue our partnership with the SBA and many local organizations."
"Programs like this one that make it easier for small businesses to take advantage of global customers are important to our recovering economy," said Sen. Carper. "The role of government is to create a nurturing environment for business growth, and this is a great example of the government providing small business with the tools to grow."
"Small businesses like The Soap Fairy have access to growing international markets will help create good jobs and drive our economic recovery," Senator Coons said. "Small Business Administration programs like the Delaware STEP grant are imperative to give the boost our small businesses need to expand into overseas markets."
The STEP program aligns with President Obama's National Export Initiative to double U.S. exports in five years -- and in so doing, create two million jobs. The program provides federal government funding for 65 to75 percent of program costs, with states supplying the remainder.
The funding will support participation in foreign trade missions, sales trips, services provided by the Department of Commerce, website translations fees, design of international marketing media, trade show exhibitions, training workshops, and other critical export initiatives.
The SBA Export Loan program assists small businesses by providing a number of loan programs specifically designed to help them develop or expand their export activities.