SBA Awards STEP Grant of Over $370,000 to Chafee Center for International Business

PROVIDENCE, RI – The U.S. Small Business Administration announced that The John H. Chafee Center for International Business was awarded $374,002 through SBA’s competitive State Trade Expansion Program (STEP), to support export growth among Rhode Island small businesses. Since the program’s inception in 2011, the Chafee Center, housed at Bryant University in Smithfield, has been selected as Rhode Island’s international trade agency, tasked with increasing the number of small businesses in the Ocean state that export their product or service.

“Exports are a central part of America’s economic growth,” said SBA District Director, Mark S. Hayward. “Export-supported jobs are estimated to pay 15-20% more than comparable non-exporting positions, yet less than one percent of small businesses export; and of those that do, 58% of them export to only one country. To continue the growth our current economy is witnessing, it is key that we unlock these trade opportunities for Rhode Island small businesses,” he added.

STEP is designed to meet three distinctive goals: to increase the number of small businesses that export, to increase the value of exports for 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 Administration’s small business strategy.

“Bryant University is pleased to be the recipient of the federal STEP award for the seventh straight year,” said Bryant University President, Ronald Machtley. “Through our Chafee Center for International Business, Bryant plays a significant role in the Rhode Island business community, providing valuable services to support global trade for businesses and supporting the experiential learning experiences for students in our International Business degree program. Bryant is proud to have recently been recognized in the Top 25 schools nationally for its international business program, and our students are a key part of the services and programs offered through the Chafee Center.”

Since the beginning of the STEP program seven years ago, approximately $138 million in grants have been awarded to fund export opportunities and increase the footprint of small businesses in countries all over the world.

“We are proud to once again be awarded the federal STEP grant through the U.S. Small Business Administration.  Working closely with the Rhode Island Commerce Corporation and our local SBA office, the Chafee Center at Bryant University provides valuable services to the Rhode Island business community in support of global trade,” said Chafee Center Director, Raymond Fogarty. He continued, “With the STEP grant, we are able to offer eligible small businesses the financial assistance they need to support their international growth.  We look forward to furthering our close ties with the business community and supporting their trade needs through this grant and our other programs, such as our foreign trade missions, international trade shows, export training and business consulting services.”

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 design of international marketing campaigns, export trade show exhibits, training workshops and more.

STEP awards are managed and provided at the local level by state government organizations. The program is managed at the national level by the U.S. Small Business Administration’s Office of International Trade.

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