Want to take business global? N.J. firms eligible for grants

Op-Ed

By Gerard Scharfenberger, acting executive director, New Jersey Business Action Center
Trenton | Oct 27, 2017 at 11:07 am

Are you a New Jersey business owner who has already realized the potential of a global market, or an entrepreneur seeking to increase sales and profit by taking your business worldwide?

The New Jersey Business Action Center has been awarded a $606,151 State Trade Expansion Program, or STEP, grant from the U.S. Small Business Administration to help New Jersey companies gain access to international markets.

Now in its fifth year in New Jersey, the program has already helped businesses like Nature Fit Brands, which was awarded a NJ STEP grant the past three years. This Hackettstown-based, woman-owned business offers a complete line of premium quality nutritional supplements. Using grant funds, the company attended a health-focused trade show in Dubai, networking with officials from Saudi Arabia.

“Thanks to the NJ STEP grant, we will break records in export sales this year, up almost 300 percent,” says Rocky Hadzovic, founder and CEO of Nature Fit Brands. “Being a ‘Made in America’ product carries a big advantage in a global market. This year, we signed agreements with companies in four countries.”

The NJ STEP grant program is funded through a grant by the U.S. Small Business Administration. Since STEP was created, the Small Business Administration has provided New Jersey with more than $2.3 million in STEP grant funding.

The NJ STEP Program is available to eligible small and medium-sized businesses on a first-come, first-serve competitive basis. If you are interested in finding out if your business qualifies for an award, call the BAC at 866-534-7789. All forms, applications, certificates and information regarding NJ STEP eligibility requirements can be found at njstep.nj.gov.

Another 2016 NJ STEP grant recipient is Zeus Scientific, based in Branchburg. The company serves the global in vitro diagnostics community, offering solutions for autoimmune and infectious disease testing. Grant funds helped the company attend the American Association of Clinical Chemistry trade show in July 2017. The grant also helped fund a market research study to identify potential international markets for its product line.

“There is a real market looking for our products overseas, and the NJ STEP grant gives us the opportunity to further explore that,” says Chris Howard, chief commercial officer of Zeus Scientific. “Funds from the grant helped us expand our reach to the global audience, expanding our network of contacts and buyers from Europe, Asia and South America.”

“I can’t believe more small businesses don’t take advantage of these incredible resources,” continues Howard.

In addition to trade show expenses, a NJ STEP grant can also cover costs to participate in trade missions, as well as access to services provided by the U.S. Commercial Service, including Partner Searches, Gold Key Service and Market Intelligence Reports

The goal of the NJ STEP grant is to provide New Jersey companies with the resources and the knowledge needed to succeed when entering the global marketplace. This year’s funding will allow the BAC to help companies across the Garden State market their products and services worldwide.