SBA awards N.J. $1M grant to help promote small business exports

Small businesses across New Jersey looking to sell in the global marketplace got some good news Monday — financial aid to help them do so.

Small businesses now have access to more than $1.3 million in funding, thanks in part to a $1 million award issued by the U.S. Small Business Administration to the New Jersey Business Action Center, under the agency’s State Trade Expansion Program, or STEP.

New Jersey’s award was one of 48 made, totaling $19 million to states to support activities to increase exporting by small businesses across the country. But the $1 million grant was the third-highest amount awarded to any state, with Michigan and Washington state receiving $1.3 million in STEP funding. New Jersey’s match of $333,333 brought the total amount of grant money available to state small business owners to $1.3 million.

SBA New Jersey District Director Al Titone was thrilled by the grant.

“This SBA STEP award provides New Jersey small businesses with the critical funding they need to thrive internationally while creating jobs and strengthening their communities,” he said. “We know that our 10-year partnership with the New Jersey Business Action Center has been a tremendous boost for small businesses to grow through exporting, and has contributed to the $36 billion in products that was exported to other countries in 2019.”

For information on how a small business can receive a STEP grant to help expand its exporting efforts, contact the New Jersey Business Action Center’s Office of International Business Development at 866-534-7789 or at The office is now accepting applications from small businesses for fiscal year 2021.

For additional information on the STEP program other SBA international trade programs, go to

SBA Regional Administrator Steve Bulger, who oversees all agency programs and services for New Jersey, New York, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands, said expanding the base of small business exporters and streamlining the process is a key component of the administration’s small business strategy.

“Since the creation of the STEP program 10 years ago, SBA has awarded approximately $157 million in grants to fund export opportunities to increase the footprint of small businesses in countries all over the world,” he said. “We are pleased to be working with Gov. (Phil) Murphy and his staff to see that this trend continues in New Jersey.”

New Jersey small business owners may use STEP Grants to participate in foreign trade missions, foreign market sales trips, subscription services provided by the U.S. Department of Commerce, as well as for the design of international marketing campaigns, export trade show exhibits, and website translations.

SPEX CertiPrep of Metuchen did just that.

When the manufacturer of Certified Reference Materials, used in testing levels of pesticides in organic foods or for levels of cadmium, lead, mercury and arsenic in medicines, was looking to expand its market reach to Middle Eastern countries, the company used a STEP Grant of $10,000 to attend the 2019 Arab Lab trade show.

The tradeshow is designed to showcase laboratory and chemical technology from companies around the world. As a result of participating in the trade show, SPEX CertiPrep secured a sizeable order with a Saudi Arabian company.

“The STEP Grant has been a contributing factor to our growth,” Kevin McKeown, SPEX CertiPrep’s vice president of sales, said. “The Arab Lab show gave our company exposure to potential customers from Dubai, Vietnam and other parts of the Middle East and Asia. Getting out in front of people helps you develop contacts and sell products.”