STEP Grant
Port of New Orleans

STEP Grant Export Promotion

STEP is an SBA Program which provides financial awards to state and territory governments to assist small businesses with export development. This program's mission is to increase the number of U.S. small business exporters and increase their export sales.

For the 2018-2020 grant cycle, the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) has awarded Louisiana Economic Development with a grant in the amount of $200,000 for the purpose of helping eligible small businesses increase export related sales. The program will offer reimbursements of up to 75 percent for new to export companies and up to 50 percent for market expansion companies on eligible expenses associated with participation in a trade mission or trade show, export training workshop, and/or U.S. Department of Commerce fee service; total assistance of up to $6,060 per company.


To be eligible companies must:

  • Have been in business for at least one year
  • Operating profitably
  • Be based in Louisiana
  • Have a plan for exporting (export strategy)
  • Understand the costs associated with exporting (costs such as freight forwarders, customs brokers, shipping, etc.)
  • Meet the SBA definition of a small business
  • Not be debarred from doing business with the federal government
  • Have export products that contain a majority of U.S. content (51 percent or higher)
  • The company can either be new to export or seeking market expansion
  • Only travel pre-approved by the LED team will qualify for reimbursement

Reimbursable Expenses

Eligible expenses include:

  • Registration/Exhibit Booth fees
  • Ground transportation fees
  • Coach-class airfare that adheres to the Fly America Act
  • Lodging up to federal per diem rate
  • Meals up to federal per diem rate
  • U.S. Department of Commerce fee services

Getting Started

  • Apply for the STEP Export Promotion Program here.
  • Submit completed application to Jessica Steverson via email at [email protected] or via US Mail at:
    617 North Third Street
    Baton Rouge, LA 70802
  • Contact Jessica Steverson at [email protected] or 225-342-2537 with any questions.


Q: Who can apply?
A: Any qualifying small business headquartered in Louisiana can apply. A qualifying small business will: have 500 or fewer employees globally, be registered to do business in the state of Louisiana, have been in business for no less than 1-year, be operating profitably, have at least 51% of their content in the US, have not been debarred.

For further information about qualifying as a small business, please see the SBA’s definition.

Q: Who does not qualify?
A: Ineligible small businesses are those that do not have a product or service to export, are acting as intermediaries for other companies, and/or are recruiting foreign investment. Companies who are already receiving federal funding from another institution for a particular event are also excluded from receiving additional funding through STEP.

Also, companies who receive STEP funding for their travel to a trade show must be registered exhibitors at that show, and STEP travelers must be company employees. Likewise, companies who receive STEP funding for their travel to a trade mission must be a registered participant of that mission.  

Q: Can my company use funds for any trade show?
A: No, companies can only use STEP reimbursement funds for a qualifying trade show as approved by LED staff prior to participation.

Q: How much advanced notice is required in order to apply?
A: The STEP Program must receive your application at least 30 days prior to the event you are applying for. The STEP Program must also approve your company’s tentative travel plans before you book your flight or hotel.

Q: What does Louisiana STEP reimburse for?
A: The Louisiana STEP Program can reimburse for the following eligible expenses:

  • Registration/Exhibit Booth fees
  • Ground transportation fees
  • Coach-class airfare
  • Lodging up to federal per diem rate
  • Meals up to federal per diem rate
  • U.S. Department of Commerce fee services

Companies approved for the STEP travel funds must adhere to the US Federal Foreign Per Diem Rates for international lodging and meals expenses and US Federal Domestic Per Diem Rates for domestic lodging and meals expenses to receive reimbursement. Companies approved for STEP travel funds must reserve coach-class airfare and adhere to the Fly America Act to receive reimbursement. 

Louisiana STEP Program will NOT reimburse for passport or visa fees, immunizations, expenses related to entertaining current or prospective clients or government officials, new product development, cellphone charges.

Q: Can you explain the Fly America Act?
A: A flight must be economy-class with American carrier in order to adhere to the Fly America Act. STEP cannot pay for extra leg-room charges, and flight receipts must show the name of the traveler, the flight class, the dates/cities of travel, and the airline. If booking is done through a 3rd party service (like Expedia or Travelocity), the company is taking a risk that the carrier may be switched to a non-compliant airline without notice, and their flight would not be reimbursable.

Q: Does completing my STEP application guarantee my company’s reimbursement?
A: No, the approval of a company’s STEP Application or STEP Travel Request Form does not guarantee reimbursement. Companies must fulfill all requirements in order to receive reimbursement. Among these requirements are submission of a STEP Evaluation and Reimbursement Form after the trade event, and adherence to the Fly America Act (when applicable). Companies who are found to not be in good standing with SBA will also be disqualified from reimbursement.

Q: What are the required documents needed for reimbursement?
A: For reimbursement of approved expenses, clients must provide invoices/receipts (evidence of expenses charged) and proof of payment in order to receive reimbursement. Estimates, quotes and/or hand written receipts will not be accepted as proof of payment and will not be reimbursed. For any reimbursable expense conducted in a foreign currency, confirmation of US dollar equivalent (credit card or bank statement showing expenses) must be provided for reimbursement. A completed evaluation form of the trade event (including meetings and events) along with results and projected sales MUST BE SUBMITTED WITH THE REQUEST FOR REIMBURSEMENT.

Funded in part through a Cooperative Agreement with the U.S. Small Business Administration.

SBA U.S. Small Business Administration