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State Trade Expansion Program (STEP)

The STEP grant helps increase the number of small businesses that export internationally and increases export value for those already doing so.

The State Trade Expansion Program (STEP) helps increase the number of small businesses that export, and increases export value for those already doing so. This program is made possible by a grant DED received from the U.S. Small Business Administration.

STEP grants operate on a reimbursement basis for qualified small Nebraska businesses. Successful applicants are reimbursed for eligible expenses when their project/activity has been completed and required documentation has been submitted to DED. A 25% company match of the maximum reimbursement allowed is required for each activity funded through STEP.

STEP grants help businesses defray the cost to market internationally, and assist with identifying potential international buyers.

How It Works

  1. Businesses must fill out an application to identify as a small business entity.
  2. After qualification, the company must submit an Itemized Budget Request (IBR) for each activity for which they’re requesting funding.
  3. The submitted IBR must be approved before incurring any costs related to the project in order to be eligible for reimbursement.

Eligibility Requirements

Applicants must operate a business in Nebraska to process, manufacture, and/or distribute a product, or provide an exportable service. They must be in business for at least one year, and they must qualify as a small business entity according to U.S. Small Business Administration standards.

Allowable Activities

The following are examples of activities a STEP grant can support:

  • Domestic and international trade shows
  • International sales trips
  • U.S. Department of Commerce match-marketing programs
  • Third-party product compliance testing
  • Translation services for hard copy materials
  • Website translation and search engine optimization activities

A limited number of intermediate market research reports will be available through the Nebraska Business Development Center at UNO. One advanced market research project will be available through the UNO Executive Master of Business Administration Program International Business Consulting Project during STEP Program year seven.

Important Deadlines

The grant extends from September 30, 2018 through September 29, 2020.  All activities must be approved, completed, and expenses paid before September 29, 2020.

Have questions about STEP grants?

Susan R. Rouch

STEP Grant Coordinator


Lori Shaal

Business Relations