State Trade Expansion Program (STEP)

DEADLINE: Closed. Next available application will depend upon future funding from the U.S. Small Business Administration.

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The Texas Department of Agriculture (TDA) received a State Trade Expansion Program (STEP) grant from the U.S. Small Business Administration. TDA will administer the STEP program through partnerships that include the Office of the Governor’s Economic Development and Tourism Division and the U.S. Department of Commerce. No other federal funds will be matched against this award.


The program’s objectives are to increase the number of small businesses that are exporting, and to increase the value of exports for those small businesses that are currently exporting. The STEP program will take the necessary steps to create or expand their export capacity and provide financial assistance along the way to help them achieve success.


Qualifying Texas companies must:
* Be organized or incorporated in the U.S.
* Operate in the U.S.
* Export-ready U.S. Company seeking to export goods or services of U.S. origin or have at least 51% U.S. Content
* Meet
a) the applicable industry-based small business size standard established under section 3 of the Small Business Act; or
b) the alternate size standard applicable to the program, under section 7(a) of the Small Business Act and the loan program, under Title V of the Small Business Investment Act of 1958 (15 U.S.C. 695 et seq.) The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) size standards are found at 13 C.F.R Part 121.
You can also use the following tool to determine your small business eligibility: https://www.sba.gov/size-standards/

*Have been in business for not less than the 1-year period at the time of application;
* Demonstrate understanding of the costs associated with exporting and doing business with foreign purchasers, including the costs of freight forwarding, customs brokers, packing and shipping; have in effect a strategic plan for exporting; and, demonstrate export readiness.

 Eligible small business must meet the following additional criteria to be considered for this program:
*Company is For-Profit
*Be in good standing with the Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts.
*Have a Federal Identification Number tied to a Texas address.
*Have a product/service manufactured, produced, processed or value-added in Texas
*ESBCs must be either “new to export” or “market expansion” – that is, the event/activity must help them to enter a new market or segment, where they do not already have significant export sales STEP clients that have a current 2018/2019, open grant may not receive a new award during this cycle.

If your STEP-18 grant is closed you are eligible to apply. The TDA reserves the right to limit or exclude previous recipients of STEP funds that have been assessed risk rating. Please also see the official request for application for additional information regarding ineligible small businesses. 

What STEP Offers:

Export Stipends

* U.S. Commercial Services Programs
(Gold Key Matching, International Partner Search, Initial Market Check, International Company Profile or Business Facilitation Service)
Discover Global Market events
* Compliance testing for an existing product for entry into a new export market (reimbursement capped at $6,000)
* Export counseling/training programs
* Fees for shipping sample products to an export market/trade show (reimbursement capped at $4,000)
* Non-state coordinated participation in trade missions, trade shows or sales trips
(eligible costs include registration fees, booth space, foreign language translation, airfare , ground transportation and lodging expenses)

* Subscription to Export Research tool (reimbursement capped at $2,000)
* Website translation, search engine optimization, localization services (reimbursement capped at $6,000)
* Domestics IBP (International Buyer Program) shows, or Discover Global Market Events

The Export Stipend program provided post-completion reimbursements to Eligible Small Business Concerns (ESBC) for specific export-related expenses. ESBCs are required to provide a 25% company cash match ($2,500) in conjunction with the stipend. Stipend awards are based on funds availability, the number of applications submitted, and the strength and completeness of the applications; late, weak or incomplete applications are ineligible for reimbursement. 

Funded in part through a Grant with the U.S. Small Business Administration.

STEP Performance Report form

STEP - Project Managers

Nora Noble-Christoff
Grant Specialist - Primary Contact
(512) 463-6616

Kat Neilson

Grant Specialist
(512) 463-6695

Julia Rico
Grant Specialist
(512) 463-7448

STEP - Administration

Mindy Fryer
STEP Project Director