MN Gets $450K to Help Small Cos. Boost Exports

The funding will be used to prepare small businesses to begin exporting to foreign markets or explore opportunities in new foreign markets.

Minnesota's small businesses may be eligible for financial incentives and technical assistance under a new state export initiative that aims to help them boost sales in foreign markets and spur job growth within the state.

The U.S. Small Business Administration has awarded the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED) more than $450,000 through its State Trade and Export Promotion Program.

According to DEED, the Minnesota Trade Office (MTO) and the Minnesota Department of Agriculture (MDA) will use the funding to prepare small companies to begin exporting to foreign markets or explore opportunities in new foreign markets. The MTO will specifically focus efforts on major markets in Asia, Europe, and North America.

“The revenue and jobs that exports create here at home are extremely important to Minnesota's economic health and well-being,” DEED Commissioner Mark Phillips said in a statement. “Last year, state exports of manufactured goods, agricultural commodities, and services totaled $31 billion and were responsible for an estimated 115,000 jobs.”

However, there's still significant potential for export growth-particularly for small businesses in the manufacturing, wholesaling, and professional and technical services sectors, according to MTO Executive Director Katie Clark. Only about 8,100 Minnesota companies currently do business outside of the United States.

DEED said that companies that qualify for funding will have the opportunity to participate in international trade missions and trade shows at a reduced cost. They'll also get cost reductions on various export development offerings-including “business matchmaking” services, export credit insurance, and tickets to the Midwest U.S.-Japan Conference in Minneapolis in September.

The MTO and MDA already have several trade missions planned for 2012. They include:

¥ a medical device trade mission to India in March /> ¥ a trade mission to China in late spring or early summer, which will be led by Governor Mark Dayton /> ¥ a solar industry trade mission to Intersolar in Germany in June /> ¥ a food ingredient buyers reverse trade mission from India in July /> ¥ a multi-sector trade mission to Russia in September /> ¥ a smart-grid industry trade mission to Canada in September

For more information, or to submit an application for funding online, click here.