The Kansas Department of Commerce and the Department of Agriculture have been awarded a grant of more than $505,000 from the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) through the State Trade and Export Promotion Grants Program (STEP). The money is to be used to encourage Kansas businesses to explore export markets.
"This is great news for Kansas and for businesses interested in expanding their markets overseas," Kansas Commerce Secretary Pat George said. "Kansas businesses exported close to $10 billion in products and services last year, and I expect that amount will be higher this year. This grant will be a key driver in helping businesses start or expand their international trade opportunities."
Much of the money will be made available through the International Market Development Grant program that will provide funding assistance for Kansas businesses as they explore overseas markets.
The grant will also fund state-led international trade missions where Kansans will host booths at trade shows and one-on-one meetings. The Kansas Department Commerce is preparing to exhibit at the Farnborough Air Show in England. Both Department of Commerce and the Department of Agriculture are planning mission activity to China. Additionally, agriculture-specific missions are scheduled for India, Russia, Germany and Costa Rica in 2012. Department of Agriculture staff will coordinate these missions, including Kansas producers, agribusinesses and agriculture organizations to assist in developing the business connections needed to continue a trade relationship with foreign buyers.
Finally, the grant will enable Kansas to develop and enhance training programs and workshops to assist Kansas small businesses in exporting and marketing their products and services globally.
"Kansas has a proud and rich tradition in agriculture and understands that the international market is a key to the growth of the industry," Kansas Agriculture Secretary Dale Rodman said. "Through participating in trade missions, the Kansas Department of Agriculture's goal is to recruit new export clients for Kansas agriculture and food production."
The STEP program will provide $60 million in grants. It is authorized for federal Fiscal Years 2011 and 2012 for states and U.S. territories.