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NDTO News Article

Press Release: NDTO Receives SBA Funding for State Trade Expansion Program

FARGO, ND – The US Small Business Administration announces State Trade Expansion Program (STEP) awardees this week. The awardees include the North Dakota Trade Office with $83,375.00 of funding to increase exports for small businesses in North Dakota for the upcoming fiscal year.

With the STEP ND 2020 program, funding is available for eligible small businesses to expand into new markets and assist companies new to exporting with market research, translation, and marketing projects. There are also opportunities for foreign sales trips,  domestic and international trade shows, and NDTO-lead trade missions.

“STEP funding for the small businesses of North Dakota means that even in these difficult times, we can still keep exporting goods and services.  NDTO and our team of experts can provide guidance, new opportunities, and connections that can lead to success,” says Drew Combs, Executive Director of the NDTO.  Combs goes on to explain, “This year especially, we have focused funding on opportunities to improving marketing, website, translation and localization projects as travel is still uncertain. This focus will provide companies the opportunity to grow and adapt to the current environment.”

With uncertainly in international travel, NDTO has seen an increased focus for projects to improve websites, virtual trade missions, and translation of marketing media, all of which can be funded through STEP. When borders open and travel becomes more feasible,  funding through STEP  is available to assist with foreign sales trips and trade missions to expand into new markets.

“Over two-thirds of the world’s purchasing power resides outside the United States. That makes exporting a critical economic driver for North Dakota small businesses that are ready to expand their reach into new and increasingly borderless global markets,” said SBA Regional Administrator Dan Nordberg.  “These STEP awards, in addition to SBA’s export loans and U.S. Export Assistance Centers, make sure that small businesses in North Dakota have the tools, resources, and relationships they need to take their businesses global.”

With the ongoing success of the STEP ND Program,  the SBA ND District Director Al Haut stated, “I am pleased the North DakotaTrade Office is once again supporting our small businesses through SBA’s STEP program.  STEP Funds can help a business pivot their sales to focus on foreign buyers by helping to cover the cost for upgrades to their website, translation of marketing materials, and participating in virtual trade missions.” The  STEP ND program has seen a high return on investment from STEP dollars year over year, reporting an ROI of  131.48 (FY2016) on the most recently reported STEP award.

As STEP continues, the NDTO is looking forward to working with many partners to best support North Dakota companies to discover their export potential.  These partners include the North Dakota District Office of the SBA, North Dakota Small Business Development Center (SBDC), North Dakota Department of Agriculture, North Dakota Department of Commerce, and the U.S. Commercial Service, all of which have the expertise to offer exporters.

NDTO will accept applications for  the STEP ND from September 30, 2020, through September 29, 2021. Company and activity applications will be reviewed and selected on a first-come, first-served basis. For STEP ND resources and application details, visit the NDTO website. If you are interested in STEP ND funding, please connect with our team at

About the North Dakota Trade Office and Small Business Administration

The North Dakota Trade Office is a membership-based, private/public partnership that provides education, research, advocacy, organization, and leadership. NDTO members and North Dakota companies can increase exports and grow their international business.

The US Small Business Administration makes the American dream of business ownership a reality. As the only go-to resource and voice for small businesses backed by the strength of the federal government, the SBA empowers entrepreneurs and small business owners with the resources and support they need to start, grow or expand their businesses, or recover from a declared disaster. It delivers services through an extensive network of SBA field offices and partnerships with public and private organizations. To learn more, visit