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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 must submit an Itemized Budget Request (IBR) for each activity for which they’re requesting funding.
  3. 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
  • International sales trips
  • USDOC Match Marketing Programs
  • Marketing media design and translation services
  • Website development and website optimization services
  • 3rd party product compliance testing
  • Training/educational activities

Important Deadlines

The current grant extends from September 30, 2020, through September 29, 2022. All activities must be approved, completed, and expenses paid before September 29, 2022.



State Trade Expansion Program (STEP)

Increase the number of small businesses that export internationally and increases export values.

Application Deadlines: Open Cycle

Program Resources

Grant Management Resources

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

Have questions about STEP grants?

Colby Angst

Export Development Consultant

Lori Shaal

Business Relations