The US Small Business Administration (SBA) has provided US states with a total of US$18.85mn to support regional SME export growth.

The funding is part of SBA’s state trade expansion programme (STEP), which was created to increase the number of small exporters in the country.

The financing will help US states and territories to support small businesses in their export-related activities, including participation in foreign trade missions, foreign market sales trips, subscription services for access to international markets, as well as help designing international marketing campaigns.

Illinois, North Carolina and Washington state received the largest shares at US$850,000 each, followed by California (US$844,214) and Michigan (US$820,000).

In the first three rounds of the programme, (2011, 2012 and 2014) recipients reported a strong return on investment, generating US$22 in small business export sales for every US$1 awarded.

Maria Contreras-Sweet, head of the SBA, comments:Exporting provides tremendous opportunities for America’s small businesses and entrepreneurs. Two-thirds of the world’s purchasing power can be found outside of the United States, but only about 1% of America’s 28 million small businesses are reaching customers beyond our borders. Exporting is an important growth opportunity for our small businesses that are ready to expand their reach into new and increasingly borderless global markets. These STEP awards, in addition to SBA’s export loans and US Export Assistance Centres, help small businesses across our nation have the tools, resources and relationships they need to take their businesses global.”

Through its export loan guarantee programme, SBA can finance up to US$5mn in working capital to help small businesses fulfil export orders.