Governor Steve Beshear's Communications Office
Gov. Beshear: Kentucky Receives Grant to Support Small Business Exports

Press Release Date:  Wednesday, September 02, 2015  
Contact Information:  Terry Sebastian
Jennifer Brislin

Small businesses are helping drive Kentucky’s economy
FRANKFORT, Ky.– Small businesses are helping drive Kentucky’s economy. Kentucky’s unemployment rate is currently at 5.2 percent and has been below the national average for one year. As demand for Kentucky products increases worldwide, small businesses, in turn, are able to expand and create more jobs for Kentuckians.

“Kentucky is going the extra mile to encourage small business creation and job growth,” said Gov. Beshear. “This ongoing investment has helped Kentucky continue to grow and prosper, and this most recent funding is only going to make our small business community even stronger.”

The $400,000 in funding is part of the Small Business Administration’s State Trade Export Promotion (STEP) grant, designed to encourage and boost international trade among the Commonwealth’s small businesses.

Kentucky will use the funds from the grant to lower the cost for small businesses wanting to participate in international trade missions, sales trips and subscription services provided by the U.S. Department of Commerce. The funds will also assist companies with international marketing campaigns, export trade show exhibits, training workshops or other export initiatives that are in line with the objectives of the program.

Gov. Beshear has led economic development trade missions to the United Kingdom and Canada in recent years, and several of the trade mission participants received STEP assistance that allowed them to attend. Among them are SnapDolls, based in Liberty, and Against the Grain Brewery, from Louisville.

“What a wonderful opportunity to be able to go with the governor on a trip to support your product,” said Stacey Beeler, part-owner of SnapDolls. “That’s what has been amazing for us, because if we would have gone to Canada by ourselves, I’m sure we could have made some contacts, but when you go in with the governor and his team, people pay attention to you.”

Against the Grain co-owner Adam Watson agrees. “We had been looking at Canada as a potential market, but hadn’t put any serious thought into it,” Watson said. “When we had the opportunity to go and learn a lot really fast, it was a no-brainer. It was a very good opportunity for us, and we learned a whole lot while we were up there; about how the market works and how the laws governing the market work.”

More than 100 Kentucky companies have benefited from the STEP program to date. 
“Kentucky small businesses and exports are vital to Kentucky’s continued growth, and the STEP program provides an opportunity to provide assistance in both areas,” said Mandy Lambert, commissioner of business development in the Kentucky Cabinet for Economic Development. “This funding will allow us to offer assistance where those businesses need it most, and it will help those companies reach their full potential.”

The latest grant is the fourth round of funding offered through the program. Kentucky previously received a $300,000 grant in 2014; a $276,000 grant in 2012; and $427,000 in 2011.

The objectives of the STEP program are to increase the number of small businesses that begin to export, as well as increase the value of exports for small businesses that currently conduct international business.

The STEP grant is directly aligned with the goals of the Kentucky Export Initiative (KEI), launched in 2010 by Gov. Beshear. KEI was formed to streamline and elevate the state’s efforts to help Kentucky businesses reach global markets.

Since KEI launched, Kentucky exports have grown by more than 42 percent. The national average is about 27 percent growth. Three years prior to KEI, Kentucky’s exports grew by just more than 1 percent.

Last year, the Commonwealth exported $27.5 billion in products to nearly 200 countries, the fourth consecutive year of record growth.

To learn more about the STEP program, click here. Find out more about Kentucky’s exporting efforts at