West Virginia Department of Economic Development marks 10th anniversary of STEP grant program
TorsionX tools are manufactured in West Virginia and increasingly sold around the world.
STEP into bigger market potential
One component in TorsionX’s marketing toolbox is the State Trade Expansion Program (STEP). The STEP program launched 10 years ago to help small businesses overcome the financial obstacles to starting or expanding their export efforts. The U.S. Small Business Administration awarded grants to the U.S. states and territories to set up and manage their own STEP programs. West Virginia was selected to receive a STEP grant in 2015. Since then, the West Virginia Department of Economic Development (WVDED) STEP program has received nearly 1 million dollars in STEP grant funding and has helped more than 187 export projects achieve more than $20 million in sales.
Recently, the state received notice that it has been awarded $150,000 to be used from Oct. 1, 2020 to Sept. 29, 2021.
Trade mission to South Korea
Mike McCown, president of TorsionX, has traveled on multiple trade missions organized by the WVDED. In 2017, the WVDED International Division alerted McCown and other executives across the state that a trade mission to South Korea was in the works.
Trade missions allow executives to travel to prospective new markets. The trade mission also includes four or more business meetings – arranged with help from the U.S. Commercial Service – with prospective customers or distributors.
TorsionX was in search of a distributor in South Korea. McCown met Industry Specialist Jessica Son with the U.S. Commercial Service. Through the WVDED and the Commercial Service in South Korea, McCown worked with Son to identify potential distributors for its hydraulic tools. One group proved to be a perfect fit.
TorsionX’s mission-related travel receipts were eligible for a 50% reimbursement through the STEP program.
McCown estimates that doing business in South Korea has generated $285,000 to date.
Building on success
The experience with the mission and STEP program proved so successful, TorsionX is stepping up to more opportunities. This includes joining WVDED and other state businesses in an exhibit at an international show taking place in the United States. Scheduled for 2021, the MINExpo International focuses on the coal, metal and nonmetal mining processing industries.
“We’re excited to have a new distributor in South Korea,” McCown said. “We’re also very appreciative of the efforts of great people like Jessica Son and happy to work with the great people from the West Virginia Department of Economic Development.”