LANSING — On the heels of Gov. Rick Snyder’s second trade mission to Asia in 12 months, the Michigan Economic Development Corp. Thursday announced a second year of financial assistance to Michigan small and medium businesses for export-related activities through the Pure Michigan export incentive program.
“My recent trip to China reaffirmed that foreign countries offer new markets, distributorships and other business partnerships to Michigan companies,” Snyder said. “The Pure Michigan export incentive program helps Michigan companies tap into those markets and diversify their customer bases. In today’s globally interconnected world, export sales offer extraordinary opportunities for Michigan companies to grow and create new jobs.”
The $2.1 million in funding is from a second year of allocations to the State of Michigan from the U.S. Small Business Administration State Trade and Export Promotion (STEP) program. State project award amounts varied based on the proposed project plan and budget.
“Through the first year of the STEP program we were able to assist many Michigan businesses with increasing their sales in foreign markets – sales that help diversify companies’ customer bases, provide longer term stability and can support higher paying jobs,” said MEDC president and CEO Michael A. Finney. “This year’s STEP award, a $600,000 increase over last year, is the second largest award in the nation, reflecting the Small Business Administration’s strong confidence in Michigan’s successful execution of export promotion to increase international sales.”
The SBA STEP grant program provides direct reimbursements to qualified companies with 500 or fewer employees globally for export-related activities, ranging from foreign market research to international trade missions.
The program’s goal is to increase Michigan’s export sales, increase the number of new-to-export companies and introduce current exporters to new foreign markets and buyers.
MEDC launched the STEP pilot program in October 2011. More than 400 Michigan companies received assistance through the first year of the program, with 132 companies entering 62 new global markets. New export sales of more than $21.2 million were reported as a result of the program.
The MEDC’s export plan was developed through collaboration with strategic export service providers including U.S. Department of Commerce, Michigan Small Business Administration, Michigan Small Business Technology & Development Center, Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development and Michigan State University’s Center for International Business Education and Research, along with Automation Alley, Van Andel Global Trade Center, Northwest Michigan Council of Governments, and Lansing Regional Chamber of Commerce.
The MEDC coordinates a statewide export assistance delivery system with public and private resources to ensure company access regardless of geographic location.
In September, leaders from 21 Michigan companies, many of them STEP program participants, traveled to China to meet with prospective partners, distributors and buyers to increase export opportunities from Michigan to China. The MEDC, which facilitated the mission, arranged more than 100 matchmaking meetings for the participating companies. Several of the companies also met with distributors who can sell their products throughout China, further increasing Michigan exports.
The trip occurred in tandem with Gov. Snyder’s 10-day China trade mission, where he focused on strengthening relationships and developing pathways for increasing Michigan exports to the country.
For complete details on how companies can apply for assistance, including eligibility requirements and the application process, visit www.michiganadvantage.org/STEP/.