Georgia lands $1.07 million in federal grants to promote trade opportunities for small businesses

September 29, 2011

TEP grant is part of national jobs program; ARC grant will increase exports in Georgia’s Appalachian region

The state’s International Trade Division has a landed a $973,429 federal grant to boost the trade endeavors of Georgia’s small businesses, Gov. Nathan Deal announced today. The State Trade and Export Promotion (STEP) pilot grant was awarded to the Georgia Department of Economic Development (GDEcD) by the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) this week to increase the number of small businesses in the state that are exporting, as well as the value of the state’s exports. GDEcD will also receive a $100,000 Global Appalachia Export Development grant from the Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC) to increase exports in the ARC region of Georgia.

“Conducting international trade is a proven avenue for job growth,” said Deal. “Exporting internationally has a powerful job creation effect. These grants will help us engage more fully in international commerce by educating companies across the state about how they can benefit from trade and the many export services the state provides.”

The GDEcD International Trade Division will use the STEP funds to establish the G.R.O.W. (Georgia Reaching Out Worldwide) Step by Step Program. The grant is part of $30 million in grants the SBA awarded to states, territories, and the District of Columbia to help increase exporting by small businesses during the next 12 months. Georgia was one of only eight states to receive $900,000 or more, and received the largest grant among the Southeastern states.

The STEP grants were authorized by the Small Business Jobs Act of 2010 under the State Trade and Export Promotion Program (STEP). Launched in March 2011, this program aligns with the National Export Initiative, which calls for doubling U.S. exports in five years – and in so doing, supporting 2 million jobs. The program provides federal government funding for 65 to 75 percent of program costs, with states supplying the remainder.

“Strengthening the nation’s economy through a substantial increase of U.S. exports is a top priority for the Administration and the agency,” said SBA Administrator Karen Mills. “This is a unique partnership between the federal government and the states. Sharing responsibilities and resources will help new small exporters across the country enter and succeed in the global market.”

Some of the most frequent challenges Georgia’s small businesses cite for not exporting include the belief they are “too small,” lack of knowledge about how to get started or about export finance options, and risk. GDEcD’s G.R.O.W. program will allow GDEcD to address some of these concerns.

Georgia’s proposed G.R.O.W. program will include educating Georgia’s small businesses and community leaders, especially those in rural communities, about exporting and export programs; connecting Georgia suppliers with international buyers at trade shows, through incoming delegations and an online “Georgia Exporters’ Directory”; matching them with export management and trading companies; obtaining market research and databases identifying viable export opportunities; and assisting companies with access to markets in China.

GDEcD’s trade division will also receive a $100,000 Global Appalachia Export Development grant from the Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC) to increase exports in the state’s ARC region. The grant will provide resources to leverage local community assets, community leadership and the private sector to help increase exports from infrequent exporters. The initiative will also raise awareness of existing federal and state international trade promotion and export finance programs and services.  

The ARC Export Grant Program will include a business-to-business mentoring program; regional international briefings with in-country trade experts, and opportunities to participate in a trade mission to Singapore and Southeast Asia. These trade opportunities will help companies in the ARC region successfully engage, compete, and succeed in the global economy.
“Our staff is well-positioned to implement these exciting new programs,” said Kathe Falls, director of International Trade at GDEcD. “We are results-oriented and customer-focused, and we have an excellent relationship with our primary trade partners, the Small Business Administration, the U.S. Commercial Service, and the Small Business Development Center. This level of cooperation, which is pretty rare among federal-state trade promotion agencies, will help immensely in implementing these grants so Georgia’s companies receive maximum value.”

In 2007 GDEcD received the E-Star Award, the highest international trade award in the nation, for excellence in exporting because of the success of this export partnership in sharing resources, making joint client calls and client referrals, promoting trade events, and, as permitted within federal guidelines, some success sharing.
Georgia’s exports exceeded $28.9 billion in 2010, an increase of more than 20 percent and the most Georgia has ever exported in a single year. In the past 10 years, Georgia exports have grown nearly 100 percent. The number of deals facilitated by Georgia’s International Trade Division has more than doubled since its 2006 fiscal year, from 116 to 235 in FY10. GDEcD’s international offices assisted with 60 percent of these deals, which exceeded $21.3 million. According to the International Trade Administration, 83 percent of the more than 10,000 Georgia firms that export goods have fewer than 500 employees.

Small businesses in Georgia wishing to receive assistance under the STEP program should call 404-962-4122. For more information about the program, visit www.georgia.org or http://www.sba.gov/about-offices-content/1/2889/resources/14315.