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The decision to export products from North Dakota to the world enables you to participate in North Dakota’s State Trade Expansion Program, STEP ND. STEP ND is funded under a grant from the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA). The mission of STEP ND is to increase the number of small businesses that are exporting and to increase the dollar value of exports for those small businesses. To accomplish this, we encourage North Dakota-eligible small business concerns (ESBCs) to participate in the program. Participating companies can receive up to a 75% reimbursement for eligible costs generated from approved activities. The STEP ND program is accessible through our website,

STEP ND  2022 funding is a two-year program beginning September 30, 2022 through September 29, 2024. All activities must be completed within this timeframe.

STEP ND  2023 funding is a two-year program beginning September 30, 2023 through September 29, 2025. All activities must be completed within this timeframe.

*NDTO will determine which grant is most appropriate based on funding availability and timing. 

The North Dakota Trade Office (NDTO) is duly authorized by the Governor of the state of North Dakota to administer the STEP ND program in cooperation with the SBA.

STEP ND is open to eligible small business concerns (ESBCs) with a significant presence in North Dakota who export products or services. Companies must be in business for a minimum of one year and meet the size standards established by SBA.

Participants must meet SBA’s definition of ‘eligible small business concerns.’ Additional eligibility requirements are available in the STEP ND program document. SBA size guidelines can be found at:

Yes, North Dakota exporters of agricultural products and food are eligible, provided they meet the defined eligibility requirements (see above and STEP ND Program Guidelines).

Multiple federal funding sources cannot be used on the same activity. Companies can participate in STEP ND ONLY if the company is not utilizing other federal funds for the same activity.

STEP ND application approval can take up to one (1) week or longer. Approvals are based on the quality of the application, receipt of all required documents, and the funding dollars available. We reserve the right to accept or reject any application, amend the applicant’s requested funding, or limit applications to any applicant. Spending and activities that occur before your approval date will not be eligible for reimbursement.

When your application is approved, you will be notified by email, which will indicate the approval terms.

Only cash contributions/expenses can be used as a match.

US Commercial Services is a valued partner in the STEP ND program, and we encourage applicants to utilize their services when appropriate. However, purchasing similar services in a foreign country/market other than USCS does qualify as an eligible activity.

A condition of participation in STEP ND will be the applicant’s written commitment (see the Success Agreement) to report related export sales and jobs data to NDTO on a quarterly basis through September 29, 2024, for reporting to SBA. The information reported is confidential and is reported to SBA in aggregate.

Absolutely! SBA and NDTO love success stories and would be happy to share your story with the media. NDTO is also happy to assist with creating such stories.

Increase the number of small businesses that are exporting, Increase export sales, and export to new markets.

Please see under ‘How to Apply’, Section F, on our website.

Reimbursement requests should be submitted in a timely manner, within 30 days after the expense is incurred. Late submissions incur the risk of not being reimbursed.

No, please submit only photocopies of receipts; do not submit originals.

Only marketing materials that are printed in a language other than English are an allowable expense under STEP ND.

Yes. The survey results and expected sales outcomes are a requirement of your participation in STEP ND. Participants are required to provide the number of export related agreements, dollar value of projected sales, dollar value of actual sales, number of jobs created or retained as a result of these sales, and any information on the success of the program or success stories relevant to the program through September 29, 2024.

You may exhibit in your distributor’s booth.

Foreign per diem rates for allowable lodging expenses are managed by The State Department and located at: