Union Leader: Kuster backs STEP program expansion
WASHINGTON — Rep. Annie Kuster, D-N.H., on Monday introduced legislation to extend and expand the State’s Trade and Export Promotion program (STEP), which has helped dozens of Granite State companies expand their exports and create jobs.
“Since its inception, the STEP program has helped companies in New Hampshire and around the country grow and send their products all around the world. Extending and expanding this program will help even more Granite State businesses export their goods, create middle class jobs and grow our economy,” Kuster said.
Launched in 2010, the STEP program was created to help grow the number of businesses exporting their goods and to increase the value of U.S. exports on the global market.
The program, which will expire on Sept. 30 without Congressional action, helps businesses attend international trade shows, supports export training programs and assists with the development of international marketing materials. Kuster’s Small Business Growth Through Exports Act would extend the program for another three years, and double the federal funding available each year from $30 million to $60 million.
New Hampshire has received nearly $600,000 in federal funds to assist more than 60 companies in better marketing their products and finding new business partners around the world.
“The STEP grant has been a huge help to us,” said Paul Vermette, president of Tech Resources, Inc., a Milford defense firm, which is using a STEP grant to help launch a website for a new line of communications technology for military aircraft and ground vehicles. “We’ve been around for 35 years now, but we don’t have a very large presence on the Internet. This funding is going to have a big impact helping us reach possible customers around the world.”
OLK 12, a Canterbury-based education technology firm that provides resources and support to academic institutions around the world, was also a grant recipient.
“This STEP funding has absolutely given me a push I wouldn’t have had otherwise,” said Dr. Naim Syed, who started the company out of his home and used a STEP grant to cover travel costs to Asia and the Middle East, where he recruited new clients.