Oregon STEP Program

Entering new markets

Participating in international trade shows and trade missions is among the most effective ways for companies to enter into new international markets or expand their visibility in existing markets. Trade shows offer the opportunity to meet potential buyers, test market interest and evaluate the competition. A trade mission can be a cost effective way to meet potential distributors and buyers, secure licensing agreements and explore joint venture opportunities.

Export assistance funding available

Funded in part by the U.S. Small Business Administration, money is available to assist Oregon small businesses seeking to begin or grow international sales. Apply now.

Who is eligible?

STEP Grants are awarded to eligible small businesses that meet the U.S. SBA's definition and can self-certify their eligibility. Small businesses are generally defined as those with 500 or fewer employees. Candidates must evaluate and certify their eligibility by printing and signing the following two SBA forms available in the Toolbox at the right (Self-Representation as an Eligible Small Business Concern, Debarment Certification Form).

Other qualifying criteria:

  • Candidates must fit reasonably within Business Oregon's five traded-sector Key Industry categories or other categories identified for export promotion assistance.
  • As least 75% of the company's total employees must be employed in Oregon.
  • Goods or services to be exported must be Oregon manufactured, processed or value-added.
  • Company representatives participating in STEP-funded activities must be full-time, U.S.-based employees.

What is the maximum dollar value?

STEP grants reimburse up to 50% of a company's eligible expenses up to $5,000. Eligible applicants may apply for one event from February 2014 through September 2014. Companies who have already received a STEP grant should speak with their Global Trade Specialist to see if they are eligible for a second grant or another grant program such as OTPP.

What activities are supported?

Most export training and development activities are supported by Oregon STEP, though specific programs of activity must be developed in consultation with a STEP trade specialist. Examples of supported activities include:

  • Exhibition at an international trade show or participation in a trade mission. Eligible travel expenses include hotel, per diem and other expenses associated with travel to and from an international trade show, except for airfare. Airfare is not an eligible expense, though the U.S. SBA requires all air travel to be by U.S. carrier.
  • Production and translation of Web sites and marketing materials for distribution at trade shows or on missions.
  • Counseling, match-making, Gold Key or subscription to other services provided by the U.S. Commercial Service.
  • Attendance at export seminars or training provided by the U.S. Commercial Service in U.S. locations.
  • Scholarships with the PCC/CLIMB Program for export training also may be eligible. Classes begin in early 2014.
  • Additional research, lead generation, Web development or other counseling services provided by Oregon representatives in Europe, China and Korea.

Expenses eligible for reimbursement

Expenses eligible for reimbursement include:

  • Booth: space rental, construction at trade show site, equipment and/or furniture rental, utility costs
  • Trade show or trade mission participation fee
  • Gold Key and other in-market assistance or meeting facilitation as provided by the U.S. Commercial Service
  • Additional industry and market research as provided by STEP partners or contractors
  • Freight costs of equipment and/or exhibit materials to and from trade show
  • Interpreter/translation fees for marketing materials, Web sites or e-commerce
  • Per Diem (lodging and meals, based on U.S. Department of State per diem for the locality) for one employee or agent for the duration of the event plus travel time up to one day before and one day after the actual event. Travelers must observe the "Fly America Act" and fly via U.S. flag carriers pursuant to Title 41 C.F.R. Airline-issued boarding passes or passenger receipt must be submitted as documentation.
  • Ground transportation costs within the hosting locale
  • Registration fees for U.S. Commerce export seminars, workshops or presentations relevant to a given export development activity
  • Cost of any additional services or consultation available to participants in conjunction with the event

When can I apply?

Applications are processed and awarded on a rolling basis until all funds are expended. Applications should be completed and submitted at least 2 months in advance of the start of any intended activity.

How do I apply?

  1. Download, print and sign the following SBA certification forms:
  2. a. Email electronic copies of the certification forms to Malcolm Strand and
    b. Mail original signed hard copy of certification forms to
    Malcolm Strand
    Business Oregon
    121 SW Salmon Street, Suite 205
    Portland, OR 97204
  3. Obtain an Export Readiness score by completing export.gov's online Export Questionnaire.
  4. Complete an online Oregon STEP application.

A member of the Oregon STEP team will follow up with you to help develop a STEP Export Plan and estimate the value of a potential grant.