Maui Business

$500,000 to Help Hawai‘i Businesses Reach Global Markets

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US Senator Mazie Hirono of Hawaiʻi today announced more than $500,000 in federal grant funding from the US Small Business Administration to support the Hawaiʻi State Trade Expansion Program (HiSTEP).

“Local small businesses must be able to reach overseas markets and share their products if we are going to compete and thrive in today’s economy,” said Senator Hirono. “Hawaiʻi made products are iconic and this funding will support continued efforts to diversify our local economy, create new jobs, and draw new visitors to our state.”

“This is the seventh year that Hawaiʻi has received this grant and it provides a tremendous program for Hawaii companies to increase exports and enter new markets. We are very grateful for the continued support of the SBA and Senator Mazie Hirono who sits on the Senate Small Business and Entrepreneurship Committee for this program which has allowed us to continue the success of Hawaiʻi State Trade Expansion Program,” said Dennis Ling, Administrator for the Hawaiʻi Department of Business, Economic Development & Tourism. “Between 2012 and 2018, we have supported over 600 Hawaiʻi companies to increase total export sales by $87.7 million. Hawaiʻi’s iconic brand is becoming more established and recognized for quality and authenticity worldwide.”

The grant funding is provided through SBA’s State Trade Expansion Program (STEP), which Congress created in 2010 to generate opportunities for small businesses to engage in international trade and export development. Through the program, competitive grants are awarded to state economic development agencies, which provide small businesses with grant assistance, training, and related opportunities to connect with customers abroad. Funded by SBA, HiSTEP is a comprehensive program to help small businesses in Hawaiʻi with export development.


During the last seven years Hawaiʻi has received more than $4 million through STEP, which it has used to support more than $80 million in new exports for Hawaiʻi businesses. The program has also created over $100 million in economic impacts and generated millions in state taxes, while supporting over 800 new jobs.

Senator Hirono voted to create STEP in the 111th Congress. Since then, she has continued to support the program including during her time on the Senate Small Business and Entrepreneurship Committee. Earlier this year, she signed a letter with 16 of her colleagues requesting increased funding for the program in fiscal year 2020.


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