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NDTO News Article

Press Release: North Dakota Awarded Nearly Quarter Million in Grant Funding

The State of North Dakota has been awarded a $247,614 grant through the U.S. Small Business Administration’s (SBA) competitive State Trade Expansion Program (STEP), which supports export growth among U.S. small businesses. The North Dakota Trade Office (NDTO) will administer the program for North Dakota applicants.

The NDTO will use the funds to establish STEP ND 2018, a program that will enable eligible North Dakota companies to receive monetary reimbursement for international business activities. The program will accept applications for activities occurring from September 30, 2018 through September 29, 2019. This is the fifth STEP Grant that the NDTO has received, with previous STEP grants awarded in 2012, 2015, 2016 and 2017.

“STEP ND gives emerging and expanding exporters the tools they need to become established exporters, and with that in mind, we’ve included several new activities under STEP ND 2018,” said Simon Wilson, executive director of the NDTO. “In addition to reimbursement for foreign market sales trips and trade shows, funding will be available for an NDTO-led trade mission to a market that we’ve identified and we’re also funding company-specific, in-depth market research by our partner, the U.S. Commercial Service office in Fargo.”

To date, NDTO’s STEP ND program has assisted nearly 70 North Dakota businesses with more than 280 international business activities. The returns on investment throughout the STEP ND program have exceeded $168 in sales by North Dakota companies for every $1 awarded to the state. A total of $1.42 million in grant funds has previously been awarded by the SBA and administered by the NDTO from October 2012- September 2018.

“I’m glad to see the North Dakota Trade Office be awarded the STEP grant for North Dakota,” said Al Haut, district director for the Small Business Administration. “It shows their ongoing support of the program and the positive results their clients are getting from the grant funds.”

STEP is designed to meet three distinctive goals: to increase the number of small businesses that export, to increase the value of exports from small businesses, and to increase the number of small businesses that explore significant new trade opportunities. Expanding the base of small business exporters and making the process as easy as possible is a key component of the SBA’s small business strategy.

The 2018 STEP awards will allow states to assist small businesses with the information and tools they need to succeed in export related activities that are in line with the objectives of the program. These objectives include participation in foreign trade missions, foreign market sales trips, services provided by the U.S. Department of Commerce, as well as website translations, foreign marketing materials, export trade show exhibits, training workshops, market research and more.

How to Apply

Selection of companies will be first-come-first-served, based on pre-approval of their STEP ND program application and export expansion plan. Any North Dakota small business as defined under SBA guidelines is eligible to apply. Information and applications for STEP ND 2018 will be available next week on the NDTO website at

NDTO will facilitate STEP ND 2018 with the help of partners including Impact Dakota, North Dakota Department of Agriculture, North Dakota District Office of the SBA, North Dakota Small Business Development Center (SBDC) and the U.S. Commercial Service.

About the North Dakota Trade Office and Small Business Administration

The NDTO is a member-based, public-private partnership dedicated to expanding trade through advocacy, education and expertise. The NDTO provides regular educational opportunities and technical training courses. In addition, the NDTO advocates on behalf of businesses that help strengthen the state’s economy through exports.

The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) was created in 1953 and since January 13, 2012 has served as a Cabinet-level agency of the federal government to aid, counsel, assist and protect the interests of small business concerns, to preserve free competitive enterprise and to maintain and strengthen the overall economy of our nation.  The SBA helps Americans start, build and grow businesses.  Through an extensive network of field offices and partnerships with public and private organizations, the SBA delivers its services to people throughout the United States, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands and Guam. To learn more about SBA, visit