General STEP Guidelines

First STEP, Next STEP

General Program Guidelines

The following guidelines apply to all First STEP, Next STEP applicants regardless of the program for which you are applying.

Applications must be approved prior to commencement of the proposed export activity and expenses must be incurred during the funding period to be eligible for reimbursement. The maximum award per funding period is $15,000 per STEP client limited to three export projects, whichever comes first.

The funding period is October 1, 2018- September 29, 2020


Application Process

  • Apply online for the different West Virginia First STEP-Next STEP Programs
  • Applications will be accepted for qualifying events taking place between October 1, 2018 and September 29, 2020.
  • Only expenses incurred during October 1, 2018 to September 29, 2020 are valid for reimbursement.
  • Preferably, applications must be submitted at least 3 weeks in advance of commencement of the proposed export activity.
  • Applications for reimbursements must be pre-approved prior to commencement of the proposed export activity.
  • Expenses related to certain proposed export activities, such as trade events and international sales trips incurred before the execution of the event may be added to the initial application for consideration. For example, airfare cost, registration fees and other necessary expenses to prepare for the execution of the event.
  • Fees to secure exhibiting space paid up to a year prior to the start of the funding period will be accepted.

    Applications will be reviewed by the Export Promotion Program of the West Virginia Development Office. A notice of decision will be sent by email within 1-3 weeks.

  • Application submittal does not guarantee a reimbursement award.
  • Funds will be administered on a first come, first serve basis, based on available funds and the quality of the applications.
  • Reimbursements may be approved for a lesser amount than requested in the application, based on the strength of the application and number of applicants.
  • The terms and conditions of the West Virginia First STEP-Next STEP Program are subject to change without notice.


Domestic Trade Show Criteria

  • Proposed domestic trade show is included in the 2018 Trade Show Schedule of the U.S. Department of Commerce International Buyer Program, which brings foreign buyer delegations to the trade show.
  • For other domestic trade shows, applicants must submit a short statement outlining their company strategy to achieve export sales at the trade show for review. If approved, applicants must provide a list of matchmaking activities completed, if any, and a list of international leads contacted during the trade show.


Travel Criteria

  • All travel expenses are limited to two people directly employed with the organization under the Export Promotion Reimbursement Program. Lodging and per diem for meals and incidentals rates must not exceed the U.S. Department of State and the U.S. General Service Administration guidelines for every visited city. The reimbursable 50% is calculated at these federal rates.
  • Meals and Incidentals per diems are calculated at 75% for the first and last days of travel. The city of location at 12 am determines the previous day’s per diem. If on a plane, the city of destination must be used.

Foreign per diem rates:

Domestic per diem rates:

  • Local travel costs (50 mile radius) are not eligible for reimbursement. Hotel and per diems can include up to 2 days before and 1 day after the trade activity based on a detailed business itinerary or justification for the number of days. The West Virginia First STEP-Next STEP Program reserves the right to limit the number of days it allows for reimbursement regardless of the amount requested by the applicant.
  • Cost for hosting and entertaining may not be included.
  • Alcoholic beverages are not eligible for reimbursement.
  • Airfare reimbursements are limited to economy class in accordance with the Fly America Act. If upgrading seating class, documentation from booking source must be presented showing the price of economy class on the same flight on the date of purchase, and economy class price will be reimbursed. Airfares purchased with frequent flyer miles are ineligible expenses.
  • Fly America Act – Applicants are responsible for reviewing these guidelines. Generally, flights should be booked using a U.S. carrier for the overseas portion of the flight. Once overseas, other airlines can be used for regional travel.
  • Ground transportation claims must be accompanied by a receipt or proof of travel.

Note: The International Trade Exhibition Reimbursement Program allows travel expenses for up to 4 people directly employed by the organization, or authorized representatives. In addition, travel will not be subject to the U.S. Department of State and U.S. General Service Administration Guidelines, or the Fly America Act.


Funding Approval

The Export Promotion Program of the West Virginia Development Office will notify the applicants if they have been approved for funding via email within 1-3 weeks of application submittal. In order to receive reimbursement, applicants must:

  • Respond in acceptance to funding approval notification.
  • Follow up on any additional required paperwork.
  • Execute the approved activity and incur in qualifying expenses.
  • Present all the necessary expense supporting documents to be considered for reimbursement. Expenses not included in the initial approved application will be considered for reimbursement if maximum allowable reimbursement has not been exceeded.

Meal reimbursements will be calculated using the U.S. Department of State meals and incidentals per diem rates. Instead of submitting meals receipts to claim reimbursement, applicants must submit a copy of the corresponding per diem rate.

In order to process an expense reimbursement claim, the following required documents must be emailed to within 30 days following the approved activity.


Expense Reimbursement Required Documents


Expense Description Identifier Number

(please write this number on

all documents supporting this


Itemized receipt Proof of Payment Type Expense Amount
Gold Key Service


#1 Invoice Copy of payment

confirmation/bank statement

Airfare #2 Travel itinerary Travel itinerary showing

credit card charge

Total Expenses $2,200


  • Expense Documentation – Payment confirmation or invoice showing detailed information with a zero balance must be presented for each expense being claimed for reimbursement. Invoices or bills not showing zero balance or marked “paid” must be accompanied by proof of payment such as credit card or banking statement. Submission of additional documentation supporting the activities is required if not clearly stated on the presented proof of payment documents, such as copy of business itinerary or participation agreements, copy of translated marketing materials, link to translated websites, booth photos, etc.
  • Payments made in foreign currency must be converted into U.S. dollars based on the conversion rate on the date payment was made, per rates of, unless documentation shows the exchange rate used for the transaction.
  • Additional expense supporting documentation may be requested if necessary.
  • Post-event survey – A post-event survey provided via email by the Export Promotion Program of the West Virginia Development Office must be completed in order for reimbursements to be finalized.



In order to receive payment and/or reimbursement under the West Virginia First STEP-Next STEP Programs you must complete, sign in blue ink, and mail a W9 Government Form. Unfortunately, this form cannot be electronically submitted.

The name and address on the form will be used for all future payments, and must appear the same on all documentation submitted under the Grant.

You may mail your original form to:

Enybe Diaz

WVDO First Step-Next Step

1900 Kanawha Boulevard, East, Building 3 Suite 600

Charleston, WV 25305

Once all the required expense required documentation has been presented and approved sufficient by the West Virginia First STEP-Next STEP Program, applicants will be sent payment by check within approximately 30 days, assuming all other criteria have been met.

Only expenses incurred during October 1, 2018, to September 29, 2020 are valid for reimbursements.

Cash match responsibilities cannot come from another federal government source.

The maximum award per funding period is $15,000 per STEP client limited to three export projects whichever comes first.


Performance Surveys

Recipients of the West Virginia First STEP-Next STEP Program are required to answer a post-event survey, and a program close-out survey the first year, and two long term performance surveys the next two years following the approved export promotion activity, to report any derived sales results. All information provided will be kept confidential and reported only in aggregate form. 

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