Gov. Bev Perdue announced today that the N.C. Department of Commerce is the recipient of a $945,000 grant from the U.S. Small Business Administration that will help increase exporting by small businesses over the next year.
"One of the ways to strengthen our economy and speed up our recovery efforts is by supporting and growing small and medium sized businesses," said Gov. Perdue. "North Carolina's program to assist small businesses with export opportunities is posting strong results and will be expanded with this increased funding."
The unique partnership between the federal government and the states has enabled the N.C. Department of Commerce International Trade Division (ITD) staff to work with over 380 North Carolina companies to help them increase their exports and succeed in the global market.
North Carolina's overall export industry is thriving. The state's merchandise export sales for the first half of 2012 outpaced the 2011 figures by five percent, growing from $13.4 billion to $14 billion. In 2011, North Carolina set a record with businesses exporting more than $27 billion worth of products and services all over the world. Exports support about 350,000 jobs in North Carolina.
The federal grant was authorized by the Small Business Jobs Act of 2010, under the State Trade and Export Promotion program (STEP). This is the second year that North Carolina has received STEP funds. Due to the success of North Carolina's program last year, the state's grant has expanded from $603,000 to $945,000 for 2012-2013.
In North Carolina, the STEP grant will be used to expand the ITD assistance initiative called N.C. Passport to Export. N.C. Passport to Export will give companies access to new market research, increase export education, help companies access global trade shows and new foreign markets, support events in China, Europe and the Middle East, and provide assistance with global branding opportunities. The goal is to increase the number of small and medium size companies exporting and to help current North Carolina exporters to increase the number of overseas markets they reach.
For more information on the NC Passport to Export program, visit www.nccommerce.com/it/export-resources/step-grant.