WIPP’s access to capital platform, Breaking the Bank, continues to gain traction in Congress as two more priorities cleared the House Small Business Committee during this morning’s markup. The Commercializing on Small Business Innovation Act provides much needed improvements to the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) programs. These programs provide funding for small businesses to innovate through research and development partnerships with federal agencies. WIPP’s platform advocates for a public-private partnership to accelerate the commercialization of technologies developed through the SBIR & STTR programs and the bill passed today does just that. The Commercialization Assistance Pilot Program will allow small businesses to receive additional funding to assist entrepreneurs with bringing their products to market after completing the program.
Women’s Business Centers (WBCs) are an invaluable resource for the 10 million women entrepreneurs in the country who annually contribute $1.4 trillion to the nation’s economy. Legislation to reauthorize this program, the Women’s Small Business Ownership Act of 2015, was cleared by the Senate Committee on Small Business last fall and now the House Committee has followed suit. The Developing the Next Generation of Small Businesses Act of 2016 provides much needed updates to the WBC program including expanding annual authorized funding to $21.75 million and increasing the grants available to centers that provide training and counseling to entrepreneurs.
We would like to thank Chair Steve Chabot (R-OH), Ranking Member Nydia Velazquez (D-NY), and Representative Judy Chu (D-CA) for prioritizing women entrepreneurs and passing both pieces legislation with bipartisan, unanimous votes.
Thinking about exporting, but have no idea where to start? Take a look at the Small Business Administration’s State Trade and Export Promotion (STEP) program. As state governments receive funding from the STEP program in coming months, small businesses will have increased access to emerging trade opportunities and export support initiatives. Utilizing the STEP program is what JM Grain of Great Falls, Montana did when it decided it wanted to export lentils and chickpeas. The STEP grant allowed JM Grain to attend a Gulfood Trade Show in Dubai, exposing the small business to new markets and an estimated $600,000 in additional export sales.
The STEP program is a federally funded pilot program with two objectives: 1) increase the number of U.S. exporting small businesses, and 2) increase export value for small businesses that already export. State governments apply and match the funds with a federal to state ratio of 75% to 25% (65% to 35% for high exporting states). STEP activities are then provided and managed at the local level by state government organizations.
Small businesses in the State of Washington in particular have benefitted from STEP, better equipping Washington to incorporate trade-promoting programs such as Export Voucher. The Export Voucher program provides up to $5,000 to small businesses for export-related expenses for companies that want to export. Washington has also provided financial counseling and targeted support for women, veteran and minority-owned businesses through STEP funding. More information on Washington’s efforts can be found here.
To see if a state already participates and receives STEP grants, go to this link and talk to them about their small business assistance. Every state deploys its federal STEP program in different ways, so it is important to contact the office listed on the map.