Gov. Gretchen Whitmer announces $1.4 million in export assistance funds available for Michigan’s small businesses

Tuesday, September 20, 2022

• Michigan Strategic Fund awarded largest federal STEP award in the nation for sixth consecutive year • Funds expected to assist more than 430 Michigan companies in increasing international sales

LANSING, Mich. – Governor Gretchen Whitmer joined the Michigan Economic Development Corporation today to announce Michigan has received the top award in the nation from the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) State Trade Expansion Program for the upcoming fiscal year. Michigan received $1.4 million in federal grant funds – the maximum amount awarded by the SBA – to help Michigan small businesses grow in the state through increased access to global markets.

This year marks the 10th year of STEP funding, which has awarded more than $13 million to the state of Michigan since its inception. Since 95 percent of the world's consumers and two-thirds of all purchasing power are located outside the United States, this grant program plays a critical role in providing access to capital, markets, and buyers.

“These STEP grants will help businesses across Michigan gain access to international markets and create new revenue streams to compete in today’s global economy,” said Governor Whitmer. “I will work with anyone and compete with everyone to grow our economy by bringing home big projects and empowering small businesses. This funding from the SBA will help even more Michigan companies expand and compete worldwide. Because of our hardworking people and innovative small businesses, unemployment is low and our economy continues to grow. We will keep using every tool and resource we have to move Michigan forward.”

Administered by the Michigan Economic Development Corporation’s International Trade program, this year’s SBA award supports export development for small- and medium-sized businesses through financial assistance grants for virtual and in-person trade missions, international sales trips, and trade shows along with website translation, search engine optimization, international certifications, and more.

Newly offered this year is an expansion of export credit insurance premium coverage. MI-STEP is designed to spur job creation by empowering Michigan small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) to export their products, providing financial assistance awards for eligible export development-related expenses.

The Michigan Strategic Fund is providing an additional $466,666 as the state match to support the Michigan STEP grant initiative (MI-STEP). To date, MEDC’s International Trade program has facilitated more than $4.7 billion in export sales through federal and non-federally funded programs. In fiscal year 2021, export sales generated a total of $558 million for Michigan businesses working with the MEDC.

“This year's STEP grant is once again the largest award in the nation, reflecting the Small Business Administration's strong confidence in Michigan's successful execution of export promotion to increase international sales for our local businesses,” said Quentin L. Messer, Jr., CEO of MEDC and President and Chair of the MSF Board. “These funds allow our International Trade program to support more businesses, especially growing small businesses, and accelerate our efforts to create a more equitable, internationally competitive and resilient economy for all Michiganders.”

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

Applications are accepted October 1 – September 15 for MI-STEP grants to small- and medium-sized businesses. For complete details on how companies can apply for assistance, including eligibility requirements and the application process, please visit or complete the online intake form to start a conversation with an International Trade Manager.

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.