AUSTIN (October 17, 2016) – On behalf of Texas Agriculture Commissioner Sid Miller, Texas Deputy Agriculture Commissioner Jason Fearneyhough accepted a grant for $800,000 from the State Trade Expansion Program (STEP) of the U.S. Small Business Administration Office of International Trade today. The Texas Department of Agriculture (TDA) will use the funding to expand export-related activities of small businesses in Texas and increase export dollars earned by those companies.
“This is a huge boost for any small business in Texas ready to expand to the international market,” Fearneyhough said. “If you’re ready to sell to the world, then the Texas Department of Agriculture is ready to help. Come talk with us.”
“Exporting is an important growth opportunity for our small businesses that are ready to expand their reach into new global markets,” said Alale Allal, Regional Export Trade Manager for the SBA Office of International Trade. “The STEP award, in addition to the SBA’s export loan program, helps small businesses across Texas to have the tools and resources necessary to help launch or expand into global markets.”
The grant money will provide trade and export training for interested businesses through the University of Texas San Antonio’s International Trade Center. Stipends will also be made available for Texas businesses that need small infusions of funding to support export expansion.
The most visible use of STEP grant funding will be major international trade missions hosted by TDA and the Office of the Governor. These visits will bring Texas businesses face-to-face with foreign buyers at trade events across the globe, including a major automotive trade show in Mexico City, the Paris Air Show, an Asian agricultural trade show and an African consumer-ready products show.
Texas remains America’s biggest exporter by far. The STEP grant will help sustain Texas’ strong performance in the global marketplace by encouraging the export of everything from airplanes to barbecue. This year, contrary to previous cycles, eligible businesses do not have to be agriculture-based to participate.
In the 2012 award cycle, the TDA directed STEP funding to successfully open the China market to Texas pecan growers, resulting in $4.7 million in first-time direct sales of pecans. Similarly, STEP funds were also used to increase the export of Texas sorghum to China, producing total sales of 474,820 bushels of sorghum for a value of more than $2.7 million.
The first three cycles of the STEP program have shown a direct return on investment for taxpayers, generating $22 in U.S. small business export sales for every $1 awarded.
TDA has earned a reputation as a global advocate for Texas products and services. Since taking office in 2015, Commissioner Miller has directed a major effort to market Texas across the globe, including trade visits to every continent except Antarctica.
Additionally, the TDA GO TEXAN marketing program, with its iconic logo in the shape of Texas, is world-renowned for its success in promoting the best products, companies and communities that call Texas home.
For additional information on STEP, please contact Denise Rodgers at (512)463-4406, orGrants@TexasAgriculture.gov.
Application materials will soon be available here. Website information includes additional contact information, eligibility etc.
The Texas Legislature established the Texas Department of Agriculture (TDA) in 1907. Today the agency’s mission is to promote production agriculture, Texas products and businesses, protect Texas consumers, and support healthy food and nutrition in Texas schools. Sid Miller was elected in 2014 as the 12th Texas Agriculture Commissioner.