HELENA – A new federal grant from the Small Business Administration (SBA) is enabling the Montana Department of Commerce (MDOC) to provide financial assistance to Montana exporters.
The SBA awarded MDOC’s Office of International Trade and Relations a one-year grant of $307,849 to provide financial assistance to qualified Montana small businesses for their promotional efforts in beginning to export or expanding exports into new markets.
The Montana International Marketing Assistance Grant program is a result of President Obama’s current initiative to double U.S. exports by 2015 through the rural and small business sectors.
Funds are available for the following activities:
• Marketing expenses for attending international trade shows
• Language Translation and Production Services for marketing materials and websites
• Market Research and Other Services from the U.S. Commercial Service
“Ninety-five percent of the world’s consumers live outside of the United States and as the world continues to grow, so do the demands for Montana goods,” said Gov. Brian Schweitzer.
“Montana’s businesses are perfectly positioned to make the most of this booming, world-wide marketplace.”
Small and medium sized companies with fewer than 20 employees make up the majority of growth in new exporters nationally.
That is good news according to Dore Schwinden, MDOC Director. “Small businesses reign in Montana. Of those, about 850 currently export. This funding allows us to not only increase that number but also help current exporters expand their markets. It can be the difference between a company standing still or growing. And growth means jobs.”
The Office of Trade and International Relations provides technical assistance for exporting companies. “Our office is contacted daily by companies requesting assistance,” said Lonie Stimac, senior marketing officer. “This grant allows us to, for the first time, couple technical guidance with financial assistance for marketing.”
In 2010, Montana’s combined bulk wheat and manufactured exports reached a near record high total of $1.96 billion. This is a 33% increase over 2009 figures, making 2010 the second highest export year following Montana’s record high peak of $2.06 billion in 2008.
Those numbers don’t tell the whole story because it isn’t only manufactured products and value added agriculture that make up Montana’s exports. Tourism and education are both service exports.
“We hope that major resorts, recreation associations, and colleges and universities consider using this opportunity,” said Stimac.