California officials are currently accepting proposals for the California State Trade Expansion Program (STEP). The program is a federally funded grant opportunity that is made possible through the U.S. Small Business Administration as a means to increase export activities within the small business sector. The program is administered by the California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA) and those looking to apply will have until Friday, May 3 at 5:00 p.m. to submit an application.
Those eligible to apply include non-profit, local and state government entities, as well as public or private colleges and universities. One of the stipulations of STEP is that funds must be used to support projects that will help small businesses enter the export market or assist in the expansion of existing exporting activities to additional markets. Some of the qualified activities include foreign trade missions, as well as trade show exhibitions for select product categories including food and agricultural products.
Award recipients of the STEP program will be required to contribute a cost share equal to 35 percent of the total project. Funding requests will not be granted for projects that directly benefit or provide profit to a single organization, institution or individual. After an administrative review process, an announcement will be made in Fall 2019 regarding which entries will be receiving grant funding. The total amount of federal funding available for California activities is estimated at $900,000.
The California State Trade Expansion Program is made available through a partnership between CDFA and the Governor’s Office of Business and Economic Development. The program is a collaboration between state, federal, private and non-profit trade promotion groups to provide assistance to select industries and their access to export opportunities. Further information on grant requirements, including eligibility criteria as well as timelines, can be found at the CDFA website.