New export assistance funds available for Michigan’s small businesses

Friday, October 5, 2018

MEDC receives maximum STEP award, largest in nation

LANSING, Mich. – The Michigan Economic Development Corporation today announced a seventh year of financial assistance to Michigan small and medium-sized businesses for export-related activities through the MEDC International Trade Program.

The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) awarded Michigan the maximum State Trade Expansion Program (STEP) grant of $800,000 for fiscal year 2019. The Michigan Strategic Fund is providing an additional $266,666 to support the Michigan STEP initiative (MI-STEP).

“The Michigan International Trade Program has developed a wide array of public and private resources to increase the number of small business exporters in Michigan,” Gov. Rick Snyder said. “This STEP award will allow the International Trade Program to continue to dramatically increase export outcomes.”

MI-STEP is designed to spur job creation by empowering Michigan “eligible small business concerns,” or ESBCs, to export their products. The program has three primary objectives: increase the number of MI exporters, increase the dollar value of Michigan exports, and increase the number of companies exploring significant new trade opportunities.

The fiscal year 2019 grant supports export development for ESBCs through financial assistance awards for trade missions, international sales trips and trade shows along with export legal trainings. MI-STEP plans on supporting 226 ESBCs, with anticipated export sales totaling $113.3 million.

In addition to the federal funds, MSF and MEDC are supporting MI-STEP with funding to support Michigan small businesses, bringing the total available funds to more than $1.6 million.

“Export sales help diversify company customer bases, provide longer term stability and can support higher paying jobs,” said MEDC CEO Jeff Mason. “This year's STEP grant, the largest award in the nation, reflects the Small Business Administration's strong confidence in Michigan's successful execution of export promotion to increase international sales.”

MEDC has participated in STEP since 2011. Since then, the program has facilitated more than $2.3 billion in export sales through federal and non-federally funded programs. In fiscal year 2017, 268 unique Michigan companies received assistance through the program, with 469 fully executed grants and 100 percent of SBA funds dispersed. New export sales generated because of the program totaled more than $606.9 million.

“The SBA STEP awards will support various small business exporting activities, including training in exporting and foreign market entry, backing small business participation in foreign trade shows and helping small businesses develop international marketing products in Michigan,” said Constance Logan, SBA Michigan District Office Director. “My office looks forward to working with the MEDC in continuing to help small business meet exporting initiatives with the STEP awards.”

The MEDC’s export plan was developed and executed through collaboration with strategic Michigan export service providers including: U.S. Department of Commerce, Michigan Small Business Administration, Michigan Small Business Development Center, Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development, MSU International Business Center, Automation Alley, Van Andel Global Trade Center, Networks Northwest, East & West Michigan District Export Councils along with other state & local service providers.

The MEDC coordinates a statewide export assistance delivery system with public and private resources to ensure company access regardless of geographic location.

For complete details on how companies can apply for assistance, including eligibility requirements and the application process, please visit

About Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC)

The Michigan Economic Development Corporation is the state’s marketing arm and lead advocate for business development, job awareness and community development with the focus on growing Michigan’s economy. For more information on the MEDC and our initiatives, visit For Pure Michigan® tourism information, your trip begins at Join the conversation on: Facebook Instagram LinkedIn, and Twitter.