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NDTO News Article

SBA Names the NDTO as 2023 State Trade Expansion Program Awardee

The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) just announced grant funding has been awarded to state international trade agencies throughout the country via a competitive application process to SBA’s State Trade Expansion Program (STEP) grant program. The North Dakota Trade Office is excited to announce its acceptance of the State Trade Expansion Program (STEP) for the upcoming fiscal year starting on October 1, 2023. The $300,000 of federal funds from the SBA will support small businesses across N.D. to harness a variety of possibilities to expand their exports internationally.

“The STEPND Program is always in high demand for many new and experienced North Dakota exporters, and the North Dakota Trade Office is thrilled to continue to support their endeavors and successes on the global stage. With this funding, North Dakota companies expand their reach and provide products and services of the highest of quality,” says Drew Combs, NDTO’s Executive Director.

Each state is able to tailor their program to suit the needs of exporters, and with STEPND, flexibility was key, providing opportunities for new and experienced exporters alike with structured trade missions, along with support for individual sales trips, market research, international marketing, translation of marketing materials, and more.

This year marks the 70th year the Small Business Administration has supported American corporations. On this occasion, we celebrate the aid the SBA has provided, including 11 years of STEP funding, which has awarded over $235 million. Since 95% of the world’s consumers and two-thirds of all purchasing power are located outside the United States, this grant program plays a critical role in providing access to capital, access to markets, and access to buyers.

How to Apply

Applications will open on October 1, 2023.

The program will accept applications for activities occurring from October 1, 2023, through September 29, 2025, until it is fully allocated.  Any North Dakota small business as defined under SBA guidelines, is eligible to apply. The selection of companies will be first-come-first-served, for up to two activities each. Companies and activities must be eligible for the grant when applications are submitted, and all projects must be approved before the activity takes place.

Applications will be available on September 30, 2023, and can be found here:

Please read all project guidelines and details to understand the importance of receiving federal funding.

NDTO will facilitate STEPND 2023 with the help of partners, including the North Dakota District Office of the SBA, the North Dakota Small Business Development Center (SBDC), the North Dakota Department of Agriculture, the North Dakota Department of Commerce, and the U.S. Commercial Service.

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 so that NDTO members and North Dakota companies can increase exports and grow their international business.

The U.S. Small Business Administration helps power the American dream of business ownership. 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, 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

For more information about N.D.’s STEP program, please reach out to