October 15, 2020

Hawaii to Receive $500,000 to Help Local Businesses Promote Products Overseas through SBA State Trade Expansion Program

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Senator Mazie K. Hirono (D-Hawaii), a member of the Senate Small Business and Entrepreneurship Committee, announced that Hawaii Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism (DBEDT) will receive $500,000 to support local businesses as they adapt and respond to the pandemic.

The funding, provided through the U.S. Small Business Administration’s (SBA) State Trade Expansion Program (STEP), will fund several programs at DBEDT, including those to help businesses reach customers through international trade shows, webinars focused on e-commerce and digital marketing strategies, webinars focused on export- and market-specific topics, business counseling with partner organizations, and technical assistance.

“Small businesses in Hawaii and across the country have felt the devastating economic consequences of the pandemic. This funding will help Hawaii small businesses learn and employ new approaches to marketing their products abroad. I will continue to advocate for programs and funding that support small businesses as they navigate this particularly challenging time,” Senator Hirono said.

“This is the eighth year we received STEP export expansion grant from the SBA,” said Dennis Ling, Administrator of the Business Development and Support Division of DBEDT.“Throughout those years, we have supported over 900 companies with training, trade shows, missions and direct assistance. As a result, over $105 million in exports have been realized, not taking into account those continued exports as a result of our introductory assistance. Although the 2020 economic environment is a totally different, we look forward to pivoting into new ways working with the STEP program to maintain and grow exports.”

Last year, Senator Hirono announced similar funding for the Hawaii STEP program. During the last eight years, Hawaii has received more than $4.5 million through STEP, which it has used to support more than $80 million in new exports for Hawaii businesses. The program has supported over 800 jobs, and created over $100 million in economic impacts, generating millions in state taxes. 

Senator Hirono voted to create STEP during the 111th Congress, and has since advocated for increases in program funding. Earlier this year, in March, she signed a letter requesting increased funding for the program in Fiscal Year 2021.