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Hawaii receives $500,000 to help businesses go global: 'Access to global markets is essential for small businesses in Hawaii'

The Hawaii Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism (DBEDT) will receive $500,000 to support Hawaii’s small businesses as they work to expand into overseas markets.

The funding, announced by U.S. Sen. Mazie Hirono (D-HI), is from the U.S. Small Business Administration’s (SBA) State Trade Expansion Program (STEP). According to Hirono's website, Congress created STEP in 2010 to increase opportunities for small businesses to engage in international trade. The program awards grants to state economic development agencies so they can help small businesses attend international trade shows and connect with customers in foreign markets.

“Access to global markets is essential for small businesses in Hawaii, especially as they work to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic,” Hirono said on her website. “For the last decade, the State Trade Expansion Program has enabled Hawaii’s small businesses to expand into overseas markets by providing millions in financial support — creating hundreds of jobs and generating over $80 million in new exports. I am glad to see Hawaii receiving $500,000 in new STEP funding, which will allow even more businesses and entrepreneurs across our state to expand.”

Hirono's website touted that since its creation in 2011, the Hawaii STEP program (HiSTEP) has received more than $5 million in federal funding to provide assistance to over 900 businesses in the state. The grants allow economic development agencies to provide counseling and training to help small businesses understand the rules of international trade.

Currently, only 1% of America’s more than 30 million small businesses now export their products and services, with one of the main shortcomings being the ability to secure business in the global marketplace.

“SBA’s State Trade Expansion Program has an extensive record helping small businesses grow their revenue by reaching beyond their borders to new markets and customers,” SBA Administrator Isabella Guzman said, according to Hirono's website. “Scaling these awards to meet growing opportunity and demand will help ensure that America’s 33 million small businesses and innovative startups are positioned to succeed with the resources and support they need to seize opportunities abroad, grow through trade and compete in this increasingly global economy.”

Since its creation, STEP has recorded more than $3.8 billion in exports with more than 12,000 small businesses receiving grants to fund their export opportunities and increase their footprint across 141 countries.