S.C. Department of Commerce awarded grant to support export assistance programs

Programs have generated more than $45 million in export sales since 2011

COLUMBIA, S.C. - The S.C. Department of Commerce has been awarded a State Trade Expansion Program (STEP) grant from the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) for the sixth year. In total, the SBA is awarding $18 million to 44 states in this year's round of STEP grants, which are designed to support and encourage small business export success. South Carolina was awarded its full requested amount of $340,600.

"We have an array of resources and tools available for small and medium-sized companies seeking to grow their customer base, and our export assistance program is certainly a critical component of those efforts," said Secretary of Commerce Bobby Hitt. "Exporting is an opportunity that companies of all sizes should take advantage of, as South Carolina is more widely considered a global powerhouse."

An essential component of the state's economic development efforts, S.C. Commerce continues to expand its export initiatives. In 2014, in an effort to build on the success of its own STEP program, the agency created South Carolina Opportunities for Promoting Exports, or SCOPE. Over the last five years, these two programs have generated more than $45 million in export sales, helping South Carolina companies sell products to 62 different countries around the world.

"The SBA's STEP program's objectives are to increase the number of small businesses that are exporting and increase the value of exports for those small businesses that are exporting," said Gregg White, district director for the SBA South Carolina District Office. "This on-going initiative supports export opportunities and vigor for small businesses in South Carolina. This state is an ideal location for exporting."

Projected to help more than 50 small and medium-sized businesses seize export opportunities this year, the grant funding reimburses small business participation in S.C. Commerce trade missions to Canada, Colombia, Japan, South Korea and the United Kingdom; major trade exhibitions, such as the Farnborough Air Show, the JEC World Composites Show and the NPE Plastics Show; and, involvement in U.S. Commercial Service programs. It also finances export training and other export-related initiatives by S.C. Commerce.

"Of the nearly 30 million U.S. companies in the United States, less than one percent are currently exporting. It is our goal to see that number drastically increase," said South Carolina Director for the U.S. Commercial Service Dorette Coetsee. "By counseling companies to utilize funding initiatives like the STEP grant, South Carolina exporters have the opportunity to expand their global reach and build the 'Made in the USA' brand. We are excited for the many possibilities this grant means for our state's exporters, and we value our partnership with S.C. Commerce."

For more information on S.C. Commerce's export assistance program, click here