West Virginia STEP Reimbursements
Reimbursements will be awarded to eligible small businesses to offset some of the costs of developing new export expansion projects. This includes businesses that have never exported their products, businesses that have exported on a limited basis, or more experienced exporters seeking to continue to expand to new international markets.
During the West Virginia STEP funding period applicants may receive up to $15,000 which can be distributed in one or more export promotion activities. For each qualifying export promotion activity, small businesses may apply to obtain 75% of eligible associated expenses. The West Virginia STEP funding period is October 1, 2022 – September 29, 2024.
Eligible export activities under the West Virginia STEP include:
- Trade Missions and Trade Shows sponsored by the West Virginia Department of Economic Development
Subscriptions and travel expenses to participate in West Virginia trade events.
- Individual Foreign Market Visits
Subscriptions and travel expenses for international sales trips scheduled directly by the applicant organization, participation in export trade events and international trade shows organized by reputable organizations, and international sales trips scheduled through the U.S. Commercial Service.
- Website Fees
Translation of websites into foreign languages, website localization services and search engine optimization. Also included is design and development of websites with international focus, oversight and maintenance and monitoring fees for search engine optimization, online market listing fees, E-commerce platform fees, including hosting and/or maintenance fees and expenses to set up websites to accept international payments.
- Fee-based Export Services offered by the U.S. Commercial Service
Click here for more information.
- Compliance Testing
If required for an existing product to enter a new market to include CE Marking.
- International Trade Exhibitions
For trade show fees, design and construction of booth display, travel expenses and shipping of samples. For international trade shows held in the U.S., applicants must submit a short statement outlining their company strategy to achieve export sales at the trade show. If approved, applicants must provide a list of international leads contacted during the trade show.
- Shipping Expenses
For shipping samples, marketing materials and exhibiting displays.
- Design of Marketing Media
For brochures, social media platforms, websites, billboards, newspapers, branding and advertising, posters and advertisements in international magazines. Also included is the design of digital international marketing for all forms and channels of social media and digital ad placements and translation of marketing media, including audio and video.
- Participation in Export Training Workshops
- Export Research Tool Subscriptions
- Procurement of Consultancy Services
This activity is only allowable after consultation with the U.S. Commercial Service to avoid duplication of services.
- Credit Insurance Premiums offered through EXIM or the private sector.
Eligible Travel Expenses
- Economy-class airfare in accordance with the Fly America Act – Flights must be booked through U.S. carriers. Cabin and seating upgrades are not eligible for reimbursement. If upgrading, applicants must turn in main cabin pricing for the same travel itinerary on the same date of purchase.
- Lodging and meals – Maximum rates are limited to U.S. Department of State Guidelines.
- Ground transportation – Including taxis, train tickets, Uber, car rental, mileage, airport parking, private drivers.
- Baggage fees
- Interpretation services
- Currency exchange fees
IMPORTANT – Reimbursements are limited to two (2) travelers directly employed by the applicant organization per qualifying export promotion activity.
Expenses Not Eligible:
- Passport or visa fees
- Expenses related to entertaining current or prospective clients or government officials
- New product development or alteration of existing products
- Cellphones and cellphone charges
Applications must be approved prior to the commencement of the proposed export activity.
Applicants must demonstrate that the proposed export activity will support a new international market entry or a new market expansion project such as a new product launch, selling to a new geographical area within a country, or catering to a new industry sector. Qualifying export activities must be completed by September 29, 2024.
Small Business Eligibility Criteria
An eligible small business must meet the following criteria in order to be considered to receive a WV STEP funding:
- Is organized or incorporated in the United States
- Is organized for profit
- Complies with The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) size standards
- Has been in business for no less than one (1) year
- Has access to sufficient resources to bear the cost associated with trade, including the costs of packing, shipping, freight forwarding, and customs brokers
- Has a finished product or qualifying service with at least 51% U.S. content
- Is not barred from receiving federal funds
- Is located in West Virginia and registered with the West Virginia Secretary of State
- Is in good standing with the West Virginia State Department of Tax and Revenue
- Agrees to complete one post-event survey, and one program closeout survey during the first year, and a yearly performance survey for the next two years
Ready to apply? Please review the General STEP Guidelines beforehand.
Funding for the 2022-2024 cycle is currently unavailable. We are accepting companies to a waitlist should additional funds become available at a later date. West Virginia companies eligible for funding with upcoming international development activities are invited to submit an application in order to be added to the waitlist.
The West Virginia STEP application process consists of two steps: STEP Client Registration and STEP Event Application
Step 1: STEP Client Registration. New and returning STEP clients must complete the STEP Client Registration once per funding year. The current funding year is October 1, 2022 – September 29, 2024.
Step 2: STEP Event Application. This application must be submitted for each proposed eligible export activity during the course of the funding year. In order to serve a larger number of West Virginia businesses, repeat applications may be denied or put on a waitlist.