Indiana Launches New Export Assistance Program, Increasing Resources for Small Businesses

22 Jan 2020


INDIANAPOLIS – Today, the Indiana Economic Development Corporation (IEDC) launched the Indiana State Trade and Export Promotion (IN-STEP) program to develop and expand export opportunities throughout the state, assisting Indiana small businesses with identifying, marketing and selling Hoosier-made goods in international markets.

“To remain competitive in today’s rapidly-evolving economy, state leaders are committed to ensuring that Indiana’s businesses and its people are able to connect to global markets,” said Indiana Secretary of Commerce Jim Schellinger. “The IN-STEP program will open up new opportunities for small businesses to elevate their goods in the international marketplace, and in turn, position their business and our state for success on the global stage.”

IN-STEP, which will support company growth and job creation by diversifying small businesses’ customer bases, offers eligible companies reimbursements of costs associated with export-related activities like participating in international trade missions, foreign trade shows and export educational programs, as well as other export services provided by the U.S. Department of Commerce. Total reimbursements under IN-STEP cover up to 50%, or $12,500, of small businesses’ export expenses.

The program, which is launching with the support of a two-year grant from the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA), will provide up to $660,000 in funding for small businesses. Applications will be available on a rolling basis until all funds are distributed or up to August 31, 2021.

Qualifying criteria is as follows:

  • The business must be in operation for at least a year.
  • The business must be new to exporting or market expansion.
  • The business must be an Indiana Small Business Development Center (Indiana SBDC) client.
  • The business must be in accordance with SBA size standards, which categorize small businesses based on measures like industry, number of employees and annual receipts. Use the SBA’s Size Standards Tool to see if your company qualifies.
  • The business’ goods must be made in the U.S. or composed of at least 51% U.S. material.
    “IN-STEP is an incredible tool for Indiana small businesses,” said SBA Indiana District Director Stacey Poynter. “With 95% of the world’s consumers located outside of the United States, the IN-STEP program supports the American Dream of small business ownership by expanding resources available for entrepreneurs to sell their Hoosier-made products and services around the world.”

IN-STEP will support and further the current export assistance available to small businesses through the Indiana SBDC, which provides expert guidance and resources to help companies create export plans designed to drive growth and position their business in the global marketplace. Additionally, the IEDC, in conjunction with the Indiana SBDC and SBA’s Indiana District office, will host a statewide event series to promote and encourage small businesses to apply for the program.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, Indiana ranks in the top 15 exporting states, with businesses shipping products and goods such as automotive parts, pharmaceuticals and agricultural commodities to global customers. To build on this momentum, and increase Indiana’s competitiveness in the global economy, the state is committed to supporting initiatives like IN-STEP to ensure its businesses and people are connected to international markets. Additionally, the Indiana Global Economic Summit will convene global thought leaders, decision makers and trailblazers in Indianapolis on April 26-28 to share best practices and advance conversations on important topics like exporting.

Click here for more information about the IN-STEP program and its eligibility criteria and application process. Contact for additional questions.

About IEDC
The Indiana Economic Development Corporation (IEDC) leads the state of Indiana’s economic development efforts, helping businesses launch, grow and locate in the state. Governed by a 15-member board chaired by Governor Eric J. Holcomb, the IEDC manages many initiatives, including performance-based tax credits, workforce training grants, innovation and entrepreneurship resources, public infrastructure assistance, and talent attraction and retention efforts. For more information about the IEDC, visit