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General Guidelines – West Virginia STEP

West Virginia STEP

General Guidelines

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 toward a single or multiple eligible export promotion activities.

The funding period is October 1, 2022- September 29, 2024


Application Process

  • Apply online
  • Applications will be accepted for qualifying events taking place between October 1, 2022 and September 29, 2024.
  • Only expenses incurred during October 1, 2022 to September 29, 2024 are valid for reimbursement.
  • Preferably, applications will need to be submitted at least 3 weeks before the proposed activity begins.
  • Applications must be approved before the proposed activity begins.
  • Certain expenses incurred prior to the execution of the proposed export event may be added to the application for consideration. For example, booking exhibiting space at a trade show or airfare in advance.
  • 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 Department of Economic Development. A notice of decision will be sent by email within 1-3 weeks.
  • The submission of an application 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 STEP Program are subject to change without notice.


Domestic Trade Show Criteria

For 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 as part of the reimbursement process.


Travel Criteria

  • All travel expenses are limited to two people directly employed with the applicant organization. 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 75% 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: https://aoprals.state.gov/web920/per_diem.asp

Domestic per diem rates: https://www.gsa.gov/portal/content/104877

  • 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 STEP 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 the booking source must be presented showing the price of economy class on the same flight on the same date of purchase, and economy class price will be reimbursed. The economy class price will be used to calculate the reimbursement. Airfares purchased with frequent flyer miles are not reimbursable.
  • Selected flights must be in compliance with the Fly America Act guidelines in order to qualify for reimbursement. Generally, flights should be booked using a U.S. carrier for the overseas portion of the flight. Once overseas, foreign airlines can be used for regional travel. The U.S. Government does have Open Skies Agreements with certain foreign countries that allow travelers to use foreign air carriers from these countries. Examples include the European Union, Australia, Switzerland, and Japan.
  • Ground transportation claims must be accompanied by a receipt or proof of travel.


Funding Approval

The Export Promotion Program of the West Virginia Department of Economic Development will notify the applicants if they have been approved for funding via email within 1-3 weeks from the date of the application. 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.

In order to process a reimbursement claim, the following required documents must be emailed to Caitlin.Lizarraga@wv.gov within 30 days following the approved activity.

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


Expense Reimbursement Required Documents

Expense Description

Identifier Number

(please write this number on all documents supporting this expense)

Itemized receipt Proof of Payment Type Expense Amount
Gold Key Service Subscription #1 Invoice Copy of payment confirmation/bank statement $700
Airfare #2 Travel itinerary Travel itinerary showing credit card charge $1,500
Total Expenses $2,200
  • A summary of Expense Documentation on company letterhead as shown on the above table.
  • Expense Documentation – Itemized invoices or receipt with proof of payment. Examples of acceptable proof of payment include invoices showing applied payments or balance zero, credit card statements, and wire transfers. Submission of additional supporting documentation such as travel itinerary, participation agreements, event pictures, website links, and copy of marketing materials is encouraged.
  • Payments made in foreign currency must be converted into U.S. dollars based on historic conversion rates using Exchangerate.com, if the exchange rate used for the transaction is not indicated on the invoice or proof of payment documentation.
  • Additional supporting documentation may be requested if necessary.
  • A post-event survey provided via email by the Export Promotion Program of the West Virginia Department of Economic Development must be completed in order for reimbursements to be finalized.



In order to receive payments under the West Virginia STEP Programs companies must be registered as vendors for the state of West Virginia. In order to register as vendors, businesses must complete, sign a W9 Government Form, and email Caitlin.Lizarraga@wv.gov a W9 Government Form.

Once all the required expense documentation has been presented, applicants will be sent payment by check within approximately 30 days, assuming all other criteria have been met.

Only expenses incurred during October 1, 2022, to September 29, 2024 are valid for reimbursements.

The maximum award per funding period is $15,000 per STEP client distributed in one or more qualifying export promotion activities. In order to serve a larger number of West Virginia businesses, repeat applications may be denied or put on a waitlist.


Performance Surveys

Recipients of the West Virginia STEP Program are required to answer a post-event survey at the time of the reimbursement, and two long term performance surveys to collect any associated sales results. Long term performance surveys will be sent on a yearly basis. All information provided will be kept confidential and reported only in aggregate form.


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 Client Registration

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.


STEP Event Application

STEP Client Registration is required for all STEP clients applying for the first time within the funding cycle (October 1, 2022 – September 29, 2024). It only needs to be submitted once per cycle along with the first STEP Event Application.

Both the STEP Client Registration and the STEP Event Application forms may be submitted at the same time for first time applicants.

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