The Kansas Department of Commerce has received scores of calls about a State Trade and Export Promotion Program (STEP) grants in response to a story about how the program helped Harlow Aerostructures expand overseas sales.
But state officials say it’s too soon for companies to apply for the new round of grant money.
Kansas received less funding for the program than it did a year ago, and no decisions have been made about how the money will be used or about the application process that will be used to win grants, a Kansas Department of Commerce official said Tuesday.
“We’re figuring out how we’re going to distribute that money,” said Dan Lara, KDOC spokesman.
When those decisions are made, he said the department would publicize the details and when to apply.
STEP grants were part of a three-year pilot initiative in which matching amounts of state and federal money were used to help small businesses increase exports. The grants are to be used to help companies with international marketing and “getting in front of markets,” Lara said.
Last year, recipients could use the funds to attend trade missions, market products and services abroad and do such things as translate Web pages or create marketing materials for international markets, officials have said. Under rules previously used, grants could reimburse up to 75 percent of expenses for those kind of endeavors, up to $20,000 a company.
“In this round of funding, we haven’t decided yet if we’re going to be able to use it in that way,” Lara said. In addition, he said, grants will be smaller because there is less funding to parcel out.
In the first year of the program, Kansas received $500,000 in grant funds. On Oct. 1, the beginning of federal fiscal year 2013, it received $154,000.
STEP grants are provided through the U.S. Small Business Administration and administered through the Kansas Department of Commerce.
Since the program began, 24 Kansas firms have received grant money; they include Exacta Aerospace, Metal Finishing, Full Vision, Global Parts and McGinty Machine, an SBA official has said.
Among other moves, Harlow Aerostructures in Wichita used its grant money to help finance a four-day trip to the Farnborough Air Show in England to develop international business.