HELENA, Mont. – A federal grant used to fund export programs at the Department of Commerce will help Montana businesses expand to international markets.

The U.S. Small Business Administration awarded Commerce $325,000 through a State Trade Expansion Program (STEP) grant, which the department will match in-kind with another $108,333. Funds in turn will be awarded to Montana businesses for eligible export activities.

“International sales are a major part of Montana’s economy, as exports last year hit a record $1.6 billion,” said Commerce Director Pam Haxby-Cote. “The STEP grant funds programs to help small businesses tap into the incredible potential for growth that exports can provide.”

Eligible export activities include exhibiting at international trade shows, translating promotional materials into foreign languages and participating in international business matchmaking activities facilitated by the U.S. Commercial Service.

Golden Helix, a medical software company in Bozeman, is one of the dozens of businesses the STEP grant has supported in the last year. Company officials considered an international tradeshow as a first step toward exporting, but the cost deterred them. After the STEP grant made it possible to attend, exports now account for 50 percent of Golden Helix’s business.

“The STEP program is a tremendous benefit for export-oriented company such as Golden Helix,” said President and CEO Andreas Scherer. “We benefited from STEP grants that allowed us to take the risk of participating in international trade shows. As a result, we continue to strive to generate 50 percent of our revenues internationally.”

In 2017, Montana’s biggest export markets were Canada, China, Japan, South Korea and Taiwan; and its top export categories were bulk agricultural products, mineral fuels, inorganic chemicals and industrial machinery.

Learn more about how Commerce helps businesses to export at EXPORTMONTANA.com.