COVID-19 has hit small businesses hard.

The Economic Development Partnership of North Carolina (EDPNC) is offering assistance for small businesses that export.

North Carolina has received a $727,000 grant to be administered by the EDPNC to help small businesses by increasing their access to global markets.

Qualifying businesses of 500 or fewer employees are eligible for grants of up to $24,000 a year in reimbursements for a wide range of export-building activities that include virtual or in-person trade shows, trade missions, translating marketing materials into foreign languages and creating localized business websites in other countries.

John Loyack, vice president of global business services for EDPNC, in a press release said, “Companies that export are 17% more profitable than those that don’t.  That’s because roughly three quarters of the world’s purchasing power and over 95% of world consumers are outside the US.”

Loyack added, “Over the past decade, this competitive federal grant program has become essential to helping North Carolina’s first-time or veteran exporters reach those vast markets.”

The EDPNC received the funding from the US Small Business Administration’s State Trade Expansion Program (STEP).  Since STEP was created in 2010, it has helped support the international trade goals of over 1,700 North Carolina businesses.

Loyack said, “During the pandemic, we’ve seen many more companies use the $10,000 STEP grants available to translate and set up search-engine optimization of their websites in their targeted international markets.  With COVID-19 still restricting international business travel, businesses everywhere in the state need to generate more international leads and sales online.”

Other STEP grants made available by this program include $5,000 toward a booth at a qualifying in-person or virtual international trade show; up to $3,000 for airfare and lodging connected to an in-person event; and up to $6,000 for export services and marketing material that aid in reaching international markets.

STEP grants are awarded on a first-come, first served basis and applications can be made at