Manufacturers can get grants, contacts through STEP program

Partnership with Hannover Messe, SBA delivers results to small businesses around the country


A year ago, the state of Washington sent an export delegation to the 2012 Hannover Messe in Germany. From that trip, funded through the U.S. Small Business Administration’s State Trade and Export Promotion (STEP) program, the manufacturers who attended developed export relationships with German manufacturers also exhibiting at the show.

“All of our state’s attending companies’ registered impressive results,” said Andrew Crowder, of the Washington State Department of Commerce’s Clean Technology Export Program. “For instance, B&G Machine entered a multi-year contract with a German diesel engine manufacturer, Demand Energy Networks established relationships with a group of electrical power authorities, Enertechnix was offered financial aid to establish an assembly facility in Germany, and Hydrovolts generated several hundred leads.”

The success in 2012 will lead to a larger state delegation at the 2013 Hannover Messe, which is April 8-12. “The State of Washington will return to Hannover Messe 2013 with a sizable group of companies,” said Crowder. “The scale of the show and the global character of the attendees and exhibitors is unmatched, and we see this as the beginning of a long-term partnership.”

Hannover Fairs USA, Inc. is working with individual U.S. states as they disburse funds awarded through the STEP program, the aim of which is to increase the number of small businesses that are exporting and increase the value of exports for those small businesses that are currently exporting. In fiscal year 2011, SBA awarded 52 grants totaling $30 million. The average value of grant awarded was $577,000.

Click here for more information on the STEP initiative.

We have a close relationship with the parties administering the STEP funds in all 50 states and are actively trying to spread the word to small businesses across the country,” said Larry Turner, CEO of Hannover Fairs USA. “Any small business interested in attending these events in our global portfolio should contact Hannover Fairs USA and also get in touch with their state’s economic development office to further their export initiatives.”

Each state in the U.S. receives STEP funds based on a single application to the program each year. Activities authorized include participation in foreign trade missions and market sales trips, subscription to services provided by the U.S. Department of Commerce, design of international marketing products and campaigns, export trade show exhibits, training, and other efforts aligned with program goals.

Hannover Messe USA and the STEP initiative are helping small businesses attend CeBIT (business-to-business digital technology) from March 5-9, 2013, Hannover Messe (manufacturing) from April 8-12, 2013, and EMO (machine tool) from September 16-21, 2013. Each show is held annually in Hannover, Germany. 

On a state-by-state basis benefits are available to a select number of small business companies that apply to attend CeBIT, Hannover Messe or EMO. These benefits can include:

  • A reduction in exhibition space costs of up to 50%
  • Help with travel and lodging expenses
  • Matchmaking services for valuable, pre-qualified new business leads
  • Co-branding with the state and other U.S. trade fair partners
  • A “pocket guide” listing all participating companies in the state to drive traffic to their booths
  • Press matchmaking for optimum media exposure

Any company looking to take advantage of these benefits at CeBIT can contact Marsha Winston at For Hannover Messe contact Ulli Hammer at and for EMO contact Donna Hyland at or

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