Massachusetts Small Business Development Center Network
Massachusetts Export Center

MOITI MSBDC Network Massachusetts Export Center SBA

Massachusetts STEP Grant Program
Readiness Assessment & Application


apply STEP ProgramThe Massachusetts Office of International Trade and Investment ("MOITI"), in collaboration with the Massachusetts Small Business Development Center Network ("MSBDC") and the Massachusetts Export Center, is pleased to announce the Massachusetts State Trade and Export Promotion Grant Program ("STEP Program"). MOITI, through a grant from the United States Small Business Administration ("SBA"), will provide grants to eligible Massachusetts small businesses for the purpose of increasing export sales of their goods and services. 


Grants under the STEP Program will be capped at $8,500 per business to reimburse for costs associated with projects, activities or services undertaken during the period October 1, 2015 to September 30, 2016. Each grant recipient will be required to provide a match to cover at least a portion of the total approved cost for any project, activity or service (the "Match"). New-to-export firms (exporting 3 years or less with export sales at 10% or less of total sales) have a 25% match requirement and all other firms have a 40% match requirement.

The STEP Program is intended to help offset international business development and related marketing costs for small businesses. Grant proceeds may be used for specific international business development and marketing costs, including but not limited to: (1) foreign trade show and conference participation; (2) MOITI and/or U.S. Department of Commerce ("DOC") sponsored trade missions with a business matchmaking element; (3) use of the U.S. Department of Commerce's Gold Key service or other in-country business development services, such as the Single Company Promotion; (4) product localization-related services, including compliance with foreign regulatory requirements; and (5) translation of web sites and marketing collateral into foreign languages and targeted advertising in overseas industry trade publications (not to exceed a combined maximum of $3,000). Grant proceeds will not cover certain activities, including but not limited to: routine business operation and infrastructure-related expenses, attendance at domestic trade shows and conferences, travel expenses, and staffing related costs.  

Following completion and submission of the Readiness Assessment & Application ("Application"), MOITI and the Massachusetts Export Center shall review all applications. MOITI will notify eligible applicants in writing of entry into the STEP Consultation Period. During the STEP Consultation Period, MOITI and the Massachusetts Export Center will consult with the applicant and review the applicant's international business marketing plan and the applicant's specific request for reimbursement. In scoring applications and awarding grants, MOITI and the Massachusetts Export Center will consider the following: the applicant's financial strength and ability to sustain export sales beyond the grant period; the applicant's demonstrated commitment to increasing export sales; likelihood that the STEP-funded activity will lead to new or increased export sales; likelihood that the STEP-funded activity will lead to job creation and economic impact; and that STEP-funded activity meet the needs of the applicant and will provide for long-term growth.

Click here to download a sample copy of the STEP application questions. All grant applications must be submitted online by clicking on the "Apply Now" button on this page.

Application Period:  Applications will be accepted for consideration during the following application period: November 2, 2015 - January 4, 2016 at 5pm.

Eligibility:  To qualify for STEP program funding, companies or firms must be profitable and meet the U.S. Small Business Administration definition of small business as provided in the Code of Federal Regulations, 13 C.F.R. Part 121. Click here for further information on SBA's definition of a small business concern.

Required for application:  Companies wishing to apply for STEP funding must submit an online application. The proposed project, service or activity for which funding is requested must occur between October 1, 2015 and September 30, 2016.

Required for disbursement of grant proceeds:  In order to receive reimbursement, a company must present proof of payment for the related project, activity or service, including but not limited to, a copy of paid invoice(s), cancelled checks, paid credit card statements and other related documentation as required. Companies must also be able to document payment against their match requirement. Full details on reimbursement requirements will be included as part of the contract package sent to grant awardees.

Please note: There will be no advantage for early applicants. We encourage you to participate in one of the webinars and compile a thorough, thoughtful and strategic application for the greatest chance of approval.

For questions on the STEP application process, please contact the Massachusetts Export Center at 617-973-8664. For questions on participation in MOITI trade shows under the STEP program, contact MOITI at 617-973-8650. Thank you!

The Massachusetts Export Center offers a free, 1.5 hour webinar about the STEP Grant Program. The webinar discusses the parameters of the Massachusetts STEP Grant Program and walks participants through the STEP Grant application process. 

Registration closes promptly at 11:00 a.m. on the day of the webinar, so please plan accordingly. Webinar login details are sent from "". Please add this email address to your approved sender list.
Date & Time:

  • Thursday, December 17, 2015 from 12:00 - 1:30 p.m.

register online


Note that there will be no advantage for early applicants. We encourage you to participate
in one of the webinars and compile a thorough, thoughtful and strategic application
for the greatest chance of approval.

Please complete your application electronically and submit online with link below.

apply STEP Program