ROGERS — The World Trade Center of Arkansas is working closely with the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) to promote economic resilience and ease concern among small businesses in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Center utilizes the State Trade Expansion Program (STEP) grant, which assists eligible Arkansas small businesses and agricultural producers with export development by reimbursing eligible expenses.
The Center is taking precautions against COVID-19 by limiting face-to-face contact. However, trade directors are still working diligently and are available remotely to aid small businesses and agricultural producers as federal officials work to contain the disease.
Remote activities like some of the ones included in the STEP grant can greatly benefit businesses during these challenging times by financially helping them access global markets.
SBA Arkansas also announced on Friday (March 20) that the SBA Office of Disaster Assistance is working to finalize a statewide declaration that will make relief available to all Arkansas counties.
“In lieu of the COVID-19 pandemic, small businesses need more than ever any financial support available. The STEP grant provides just that for firms that want to start exporting or want to expand their markets.” said Melvin Torres, the Center’s director of Western Hemisphere trade.
Small businesses and agricultural producers account for 80% of the Natural State’s exports.
Trish Watkins, the Center’s director of finance, grants and human resources, describes the STEP program as vital to expanding business opportunities overseas.
“We’ve secured hundreds of thousands in funding for small businesses that have allowed us to assist eligible Arkansas business with their export endeavors,” Watkins said.
“The STEP grant funding is available through reimbursement of different activities ranging from trade shows, trade missions, export training, website development, website translation and optimization, marketing media design, among others,” Watkins added.
The Center’s mission is to grow trade and increase Arkansas exports by connecting Arkansas businesses to the world through international trade services. The center is part of the University of Arkansas and serves as the trade promotion arm for the Arkansas Economic Development Commission. For more information and valuable updates, please follow the center on Facebook and Twitter or subscribe to the World Trade Center Arkansas newsletter.