Small companies in Kansas looking to expand their export business can get financial assistance through the state's Department of Commerce.
The Small Business Administration awarded the State Trade Expansion Program (STEP) grant to the Kansas Department of Commerce and the Kansas Department of Agriculture. The $380,000 grant was awarded on Tuesday.
The money will be used to help small and medium-sized businesses begin exporting for the first time or expand their existing export business.
Chang Lu, an international trade representative at the Kansas Department of Commerce, says the value of U.S. dollar is getting stronger overseas so it’s a good time to boost Kansas’ exports.
"'Made in the U.S.A.' is a very prestigious brand overseas," Lu says. "So I think the opportunity for exporting is out there. The key for our small and medium-sized companies is just how to find it, how to get in touch with those opportunities."
The ag department will use grant funds to explore emerging markets for Kansas agricultural products. The state exported nearly $3.6 billion in agricultural products last year.
Since 2012, more than 50 Kansas small businesses have achieved $17.2 million in export sales through STEP programs. The Kansas Department of Commerce, which administers the distribution of STEP funds in Kansas, is currently accepting applications from small businesses.
Programs offered through the STEP Grant include:
- Export seminars and training courses
- Opportunities for participation in foreign trade shows and missions
- Support for entering new markets
Lu says when companies bring their products overseas, they are competing with companies from all over the world, not just other U.S. companies.
“So you have to offer something unique," Lu says. "You can compete on technology, you can compete on price and on quality, but you have to have some advantage in order to be successful overseas.”
Canada, Mexico and China remain Kansas’ top trading partners.
Follow Deborah Shaar on Twitter @deborahshaar