Federal STEP award coincides with program’s 10th anniversary this year
BALTIMORE, MD (October 14, 2020) – As part of a continuing effort to broaden Maryland’s international reach and help companies create jobs and access new foreign markets, the Maryland Department of Commerce has been awarded a $349,000 grant from the U.S. Small Business Administration. The State Trade Expansion Program (STEP) grant will be used to support Maryland Commerce’s international efforts, including participation in virtual conferences as well as attending overseas trade shows in targeted industry sectors when global travel resumes. It will also help fund the state’s ExportMD program, which provides matching grants of up to $5,000 to help Maryland companies market their goods and services to global customers.
This year is the 10th anniversary of the federal STEP. Over the past decade, Maryland Commerce has received more than $4.5 million from the program, and as a result, awarded hundreds of small and mid-sized businesses from all regions of the state with ExportMD grants, including 24 over the past six months. The next application deadline for the ExportMD program is November 1, 2020 and eligibility requirements can be found on the Commerce website.
“This federal grant will allow the state to continue helping businesses in need as they pivot production and find new ways to explore the global market,” said Governor Larry Hogan. “We thank the U.S. Small Business Administration for their continued partnership and assistance in funding our local businesses over the past decade.”
With travel restrictions in place, the ExportMD program was expanded to cover additional eligible expenses for non-travel activities, including increased coverage for compliance testing, shipping sample products, and website translation into foreign languages, in hopes of making the program more flexible and attainable for local businesses. Baltimore County-based AirPhoton, LLC is utilizing the grant to expand its business into developing satellite payloads for the space industry. AirPhoton is working to find partners in the Australian aerospace industry, with plans to do the same in Singapore and Southeast Asia. They will also use the grant for professional translation of key webpages.
“For years we’ve been planning to expand. We have the expertise to launch our own space business and we try to give back. Part of the reason my wife wanted to start this company was to bring jobs to people,” said Richard Kleidman, Chief Operating Officer at AirPhoton LLC. “The ExportMD program is great for a small company like ours, and the fact that we can leverage the resources of the state of Maryland is just fantastic.”
This week, Maryland Commerce will host several businesses on a virtual trade mission to BioJapan, known as Asia's premier partnering event for the global biotechnology industry, and will provide additional virtual missions to Africa and Colombia in the coming months. The department also recently partnered with the University of Maryland’s Center for Global Business to provide a webinar series on taking Maryland-based businesses into global markets, which highlights resources and strategies for marketing services around the world during uncertain economic times.
“We are very grateful to have the support of the U.S. Small Business Administration in keeping Maryland businesses competitive and thriving,” said Maryland Commerce Secretary Kelly M. Schulz. “We are working to provide as many resources as possible for our local businesses, and we hope our new program changes, as well as web and virtual features, help them continue growing in markets across the globe.”
Maryland’s Office of International Investment and Trade works to stimulate foreign direct investment in the State, offers export assistance, and coordinates international trade and investment missions and trade show opportunities for Maryland companies. The state has 16 foreign trade offices, including Africa (Durban), ASEAN countries (Singapore), Australia (Sydney), Brazil (Sao Paulo), Canada (Montreal), Chile (Santiago), Mainland China (Shanghai), Colombia (Bogota), Europe (Paris), India (Delhi), Israel (Tel Aviv), Japan (Tokyo), Mexico (Mexico City), Peru (Lima), Taiwan (Taipei), and the United Arab Emirates (Dubai).
January - August 2020 ExportMD grant recipients
Anne Arundel County
Equinox Innovative Systems
MOJO Web Solutions, LLC
Orbis Technologies, Inc.
DiPole Materials, Inc.
Sisu Global Health
JGS Group LLC
Rovner Products Inc.
BKBurton VoiceOvers, LLC
Phelps Industrial Products, LLC
Biotech Diagnostics LLC
Just Results, LLC
Maven Engineering Corporation
Silent Beacon LLC
Prince George’s County
Queen Anne’s County
Ride Entertainment Systems, Inc.
St. Mary’s County
Tobacco Barn Distillery
Burley Oak LLC