FARGO, N.D. – Over $13 million in global sales is anticipated as a result of first quarter activities funded by STEP ND, the financial assistance and training program for North Dakota small business exporters, facilitated by the North Dakota Trade Office (NDTO). The STEP ND program is made possible by a U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) grant which was awarded to NDTO through the SBA State Trade and Export Promotion (STEP) program. STEP ND began Oct. 1, 2012 and will run through Sept. 30, 2013.
“The goal of STEP ND is to help our small businesses defray costs associated with expanding exports or entering a new market,” said Dean Gorder, NDTO executive director. “The program is easy for exporters to use and has already resulted in significant sales for our North Dakota companies.” The program is designed to provide resources to increase North Dakota’s presence in the global economy.
In the first quarter of the STEP ND program, 17 North Dakota small businesses took advantage of monetary reimbursement for eligible activities aimed at increasing exports.
“STEP ND has been a great asset to Posi Lock and has helped us increase our sales significantly in the Inner Mongolian market,” said Tamara Somerville, vice president of Posi Lock Puller, Inc. “In just the first quarter of the program, we were able to cover 75 percent of our travel costs for trips in which we sold more than $130,000 worth of product.”
Activities that qualify for reimbursement under STEP ND include trade missions and foreign trade shows, NDTO education programs and international marketing materials. Costs can also be reimbursed for a variety of programs facilitated by the following STEP ND partners: Dakota Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP); North Dakota Department of Agriculture; (NDDA); the U.S. Commercial Service; North Dakota Small Business Development Center (SBDC); and, the District Export Council (DEC).
“We’re excited to be a STEP ND partner to help North Dakota companies grow more productively and profitably through commitment to continuous improvement and innovation,” said Randy Schwartz, director of the Dakota MEP. “STEP ND funds can be used for Dakota MEP programs to develop superior processes; meaningfully unique innovation products and services; people; supply chains; ways to conserve energy; and global business markets and plans.”
STEP ND is part of a larger strategy to promote North Dakota’s high quality products in key international markets throughout the world. According to U.S. Department of Commerce statistics, North Dakota’s merchandise exports have grown nearly 320 percent since the conception of NDTO, from $1 billion in 2004 to $4.2 billion in 2012.
Funded in part through a Cooperative Agreement with the U.S. Small Business Administration.