State Trade Expansion Program (STEP)

The N.C. Passport to Export program was created to help small businesses grow globally. By growing globally, small businesses thrive locally.

The North Carolina Passport to Export Grant program is designed to increase:

  • the amount of small businesses exporting
  • the total value of exports from N.C. small business
  • the number of global markets to which N.C. small businesses export

The program is a component of the National Export Initiative (NEI) and is funded in part through a Cooperative Agreement with the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA).

The N.C. Passport to Export program is designed to help North Carolina-based small businesses generate new export revenues and create or retain new jobs for North Carolina by preparing them for exporting with an array of trade-related resources and services.

The N.C. Passport to Export program is focused exclusively on small businesses and will give special consideration to women-, minority- and veteran-owned businesses as well as businesses located in rural North Carolina.

Company Eligibility Requirements

Below is a list of the primary eligibility requirements for small businesses to apply for N.C. Passport to Export STEP Program funding.

To be eligible to apply, companies must:

  • Have 500 or fewer employees globally, or otherwise be in accordance with SBA guidelines
  • Be registered to do business in the state of North Carolina
  • Have been in business for no less than 1-year on the date of application
  • Be operating profitably, based on operations in the United States
  • Have a product/service consisting of at least 51% U.S. Content
  • Have not been debarred and can conduct business with Federal government

For Further Information

Contact Cheryl Mauro,  North Carolina's STEP Program Manager based at the Economic Development Partnership of North Carolina, on (919) 447-7790.