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State Trade Expansion Program (STEP)

The State Trade Expansion Program (STEP) helps to increase the number of Nebraska small businesses that export, and increases export value for those already doing so. The program is made possible by funding to the State of Nebraska from the U.S. Small Business Administration.

STEP grants operate on a reimbursement basis for qualified small Nebraska businesses. Successful applicants are reimbursed for eligible expenses when their project/activity has been completed and required documentation has been submitted to the Department of Economic Development (DED). A 25% company match of the maximum reimbursement allowed is required for each activity funded through STEP.

STEP grants help businesses defray the costs of marketing internationally and assist with identifying potential international buyers.

How It Works

  1. Businesses must fill out an application to identify as a small business entity.
  2. After qualification, the company participates in mandatory training covering the grant, administrative tasks, executions of trade activities, and reporting. 
  3. Then company must submit an Itemized Budget Request (IBR) for each activity for which they’re requesting funding.
  4. The submitted IBR must be approved before incurring any costs related to the project in order to be eligible for reimbursement.

Eligibility Requirements

Applicants must operate a business in Nebraska to process, manufacture, and/or distribute a product, or provide an exportable service. They must be in business for at least one year, and they must qualify as a small business entity according to U.S. Small Business Administration standards.

Allowable Activities

The following are examples of activities a STEP grant can support:

  • Domestic and international trade shows
  • USDOC Match Marketing Programs

  • Training/educational activities


Application User Guide


Step by step instructions for submitting a State Trade Expansion Program Year 11 application.

State Trade Expansion Program (STEP)


Application Deadlines: Open Cycle

Program Resources

TitleFile TypeDate
Debarment Certification Form Yr-11PDFOctober 27, 2022
Fly America Act Waiver ChecklistPDFApril 15, 2024
Fly American Act Policy 2-4-16PDFOctober 27, 2022
Itemized Budget Request IBR Year-11ExcelApril 18, 2024
SBA Self-Representation FormPDFOctober 27, 2022
STEP Program Guidelines Yr-11PDFApril 16, 2024

Grant Management Help Center

This page will provide technical assistance on using AmpliFund to apply for and manage grants awarded by DED.

Stay up to date on the latest news.

Subscribe to the State Trade Expansion Program (STEP) email lists here.

Have questions about STEP grants?

Colby Angst

Export Development Consultant

Ben Coleman

Economic Development Consultant