Agency of Commerce receives $300K to assist VT small businesses export

19 September 2019

Release Date: Sept. 17, 2019

Contact: daniel.monahan@sba.gov

Agency of Commerce receives $300K to assist VT small businesses export

MONTPELIER, Vt. – The Vermont Agency of Commerce and Community Development is being awarded a grant to assist Vermont small businesses export goods and services.

The Small Business Administration announced Friday that it is providing Vermont a $300,000 grant through the SBA’s State Trade Expansion Program, a federal-state partnership initiative to increase the number of small businesses exporting. The state of Vermont is providing $100,000 for a total of $400,000 in state exporting funds.

This marks the ninth time Vermont has received a STEP grant. Expanding the base of small business exporters and improving the process to explore new trade opportunities is a key component of SBA’s small business strategy.

“Each year the state is awarded a STEP grant, it’s another year affording small businesses the opportunity to show the world what great products Vermont has,” said Darcy Carter, SBA Vermont District Director.

The Department of Economic Development, a division of the Vermont Agency of Commerce and Community Development oversees and manages the STEP grant.

“We are very pleased the SBA has approved Vermont’s request for funds. International Trade is vitally important for our small businesses in the state and these funds help them develop into new markets and improve their exporting plans. The previous funding cycle allowed us to extend resources to 33 Vermont small businesses to attend trade shows, meet foreign distributors as well as participate in training seminars on export compliance,” said Tim Tierney, Department of Economic Development Director of International Trade.

In May the Vermont Agency of Commerce and Community Development used STEP funds to participate in the National Restaurant Association Show in Chicago to showcase Vermont craft food and beverage businesses to an international audience.

“We had access to professionals from around the world. Access at events like this provides a level playing field for the ‘little guy’ to play with the ‘big guys.’ We had several conversations with large international companies. And these were serious conversations,” said Bob Hausslein, owner and founder of Sugar Bob's Finest Kind. Sugar Bob's Finest Kind is based in Rutland and makes a variety of smoked infused products such as syrup.

Mad River Distillers in Waitsfield sent its president Mimi Buttenheim to increase the brand awareness of its whiskey and rum.

“This show is huge and it was great to be part of it. We are currently only in New England, but we want to compete on a national and international scale. This event was a good start,” said Buttenheim.

Since STEP’s creation in 2010, the SBA has provided Vermont with more than $2 million in STEP grants.

Goods exported from Vermont topped $2.8 billion in 2017, according to the International Trade Administration’s 2018 Vermont Exports, Jobs, & Foreign Investment report. The ITA report also states more than 11,700 U.S. jobs are supported by goods exported from Vermont and 97 percent of these jobs are in manufacturing.  The state's largest exporting markets are Canada, Hong Kong, China, Korea and Malaysia. Computer and electronic products account for 77 percent of all goods exported from Vermont. 

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