New program offers incentives for businesses to export goods, servicesSmall businesses statewide may be eligible for financial incentives and technical assistance under a new state export initiative focused on helping companies increase sales in foreign markets and spur job growth in Minnesota.
Small businesses statewide may be eligible for financial incentives and technical assistance under a new state export initiative focused on helping companies increase sales in foreign markets and spur job growth in Minnesota.
The U.S. Small Business Administration has awarded the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED) more than $450,000 through its State Trade and Export Promotion Program (STEP).
The Minnesota Trade Office (MTO) and the Minnesota Department of Agriculture (MDA) will use the money to prepare companies that are not currently exporting to make their first entries into foreign markets and to help current exporters explore opportunities in new markets.
"The revenue and jobs that exports create here at home are extremely important to Minnesota's economic health and well-being," said DEED Commissioner Mark Phillips. "Last year, state exports of manufactured goods, agricultural commodities and services totaled $31 billion and were responsible for an estimated 115,000 jobs."
Still, only about 8,100 Minnesota companies do business outside the United States, said MTO Executive Director Katie Clark. "There is tremendous untapped export potential for small businesses statewide, especially those engaged in manufacturing, wholesaling, and professional and technical services," she said.
MTO, which is an office within DEED and the state's official export-promotion arm, will use the STEP funding to help small businesses begin or expand their exports to major markets in Asia, Europe and North America.
Qualifying companies will have an opportunity to participate in international trade missions, trade shows and export development activities at a reduced cost.
MTO and MDA will lead delegations on trade missions and to trade shows in key markets that hold excellent export potential for small businesses, including:
A medical device trade mission to India in March 2012
Gov. Mark Dayton's trade mission to China in late spring or early summer 2012
A solar industry trade mission to Intersolar in Germany in June 2012
A food ingredient buyers reverse trade mission from India in July 2012
A multi-sector trade mission to Russia in September 2012
A smart grid industry trade mission to Canada in September 2012
In addition to the trade missions, qualifying companies will be able to participate in the following events at reduced cost:
Business matchmaking services from the U.S. Commercial Service as part of a trade mission
Export credit insurance through the Export-Import Bank of the United States
MTO World Trade Conference
The Midwest U.S.-Japan Conference in Minneapolis in September 2012
Companies may submit an application online at www.positivelyminnesota.com/step.