Michigan’s State Trade Export Promotion (STEP) Program

Posted by on March 16, 2012

In the beginning of the year 2010 President Barack Obama set the goal for the United States to double its export growth over the next five years, a goal which he said has the potential to create two million jobs within U.S. borders. 

Little do Michiganders know that our state actually ranks in the top 10 in the country in many export categories.  The Great Lakes State ranks eighth in the nation overall in exports, and most recent figures show that we are the seventh largest state exporter of fruit and processed fruit products, the inth-largest exporter of vegetables and vegetable products, and the 18thlargest exporter in the United States for agricultural exports.  This agriculture exporting is just a fraction of all the things Michigan exports, yet has a total value of $1.75 billion and supports close to 15,000 jobs within the State.

Recently, Governor Rick Snyder made a trip to Asia that covered three nations and was intended to help facilitate Michigan business investment and export relationships to that part of the world.  The Governor’s visit resulted in an agreement of strategic cooperation between Michigan and the Gyeonggi province of South Korea, which may result in opportunities for the state to partner with universities, private sector companies, and research centers within the province.  This agreement coincides perfectly with the trade agreement between the U.S. and South Korea that was signed nearly 5 years ago, which took effect on March 15.  This trade agreement is anticipated to open new markets and eliminate trade restrictions between the two counties on a wide range of goods, from industrial to agricultural products.

These new agreements with South Korea are just one of the many reasons businesses in the Upper Peninsula should consider getting involved in exporting.  It may seem like a monumental task to research, develop, and produce a product for the export market, but that’s why the Michigan Economic Development Corporation has created the Pure Michigan State Trade Export Promotion (STEP) Program, providing exporting assistance, references and programs for businesses of all sizes that are looking to tap into the vast export market.  

The program is designed to increase the number of Michigan companies that export and introduce current exporters to new foreign markets and buyers.  This means you! Companies of 500 employees or less may be eligible for up to $25,000 in assistance to augment their ability to begin, or continue their exporting related activities, not to mention technical assistance to support your entry or expansion in the global marketplace.  Visit www.michiganadvantage.org/STEP for more information on how your company can qualify for financial assistance in export-related activities. 

For further information and assistance getting your company involved in the STEP program, contact the Lake Superior Community Partnership business development specialist Caralee Swanberg at 226-6591 or email her at cswanberg@marquette.org.