Highly motivated eligible businesses will work with the Export Promotion Program of the West Virginia Department of Economic Development to explore new markets of opportunity using the Initial Market Check and other services offered by the U.S. Commercial Service of the U.S. Department of Commerce. This service provides an initial assessment of market potential of a product or service in a targeted market by gathering feedback from up to five industry participants and provides a recommendation on whether to pursue the target market.
Market Finder Reimbursements will be awarded to eligible small businesses to offset 75% of the cost of the market study. The remaining 25% will be considered a required matching contribution by the applicant. The maximum reimbursement per participating business per funding year under this program is $1,500. Participating businesses are welcome to compete for additional funding using any of the other available West Virginia First STEP- Next STEP reimbursement programs. The West Virginia First STEP-Next STEP funding period is October 1, 2018 through September 29, 2020.
Participating firms will follow up with a proposed export strategy to pursue at least one of the target markets based on the results of the study. Proposed export strategies must include the execution of an export marketing activity such as participation in trade shows, sales trips, product demonstrations, website marketing, and the Gold Key Service. Proposed export marketing activities can be funded by the West Virginia First STEP-Next STEP Program if it is available and all the eligibility criteria is met.
Applicants must demonstrate sufficient export readiness, resources and experience to enter or expand into new markets and a high level of commitment to follow up on the results of the market study.
Small Business Eligibility Criteria
An eligible small business must meet the following criteria in order to be considered to receive a Market Finder Reimbursement:
- Is organized or incorporated in the United States
- Has a physical address located in West Virginia
- 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 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