Durbin: $1.2 Million SBA Investment Will Help Illinois Small Businesses

[WASHINGTON, D.C.] – U.S. Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL) today announced that the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) has recently awarded a $1,265,477 grant to help small businesses in Illinois.  Today’s funding was awarded as a part of the State Trade and Export Promotion Program (STEP) which is designed to help increase the number of small businesses that are exporting and also to raise the value of exports for small businesses that are already exporting.


“Small businesses are the economic engine of this country and the key to a true recovery,” said Durbin.  “The STEP Program funding will allow Illinois to provide assistance and guidance to more small businesses that are trying to identify customers overseas, grow their business right here in the United States and create jobs in Illinois.  Additionally, the program will give small businesses that are already exporting the opportunity to take advantage of the financial and technical resources they need to generate more revenue on their exports.”


Specifically, Illinois will use this funding to target three key objectives: expand the number of small businesses recruited to receive export assistance; increase the dollar value of export sales for Illinois small businesses through high-impact financial and technical assistance at sector-specific tradeshows; and increase the dollar value of export sales through high-impact financial and technical assistance, key market research, overseas match-making and agent/distributor searches.


The STEP Program is a 3-year pilot trade and export initiative authorized by the Small Business Jobs Act of 2010.  It helps provide recipients with: support for small business participation in foreign trade missions and foreign market sales trips; subscription to services by the Department of Commerce; website translation fees; design of international marketing media; trade show exhibitions; participation in training workshops; and other export initiatives determined to be appropriate by the SBA.  This week, the SBA awarded approximately $30 million to 47 different states, Puerto Rico, District of Columbia, Northern Mariana Islands, Guam, and the U.S. Virgin Islands. 


Durbin is Chairman of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Financial Services and General Government (FSGG) – the committee with appropriations jurisdiction over the SBA.  In April 2010, Durbin convened a meeting in Chicago of leading export officials to promote the services the federal government offers to help small businesses increase their sales overseas.  The Illinois Small Business Export Promotion Forum featured U.S. Secretary of Commerce Gary Locke, U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk, Export Import Bank of the U.S. Chairman and President Fred Hochberg, and U.S. Small Business Regional Administrator Marianne Markowitz.