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September 12, 2022

Trade center gets $400k to help Maine small businesses with exports

graphic with plane and ship COURTESY / MAINE INTERNATIONAL TRADE CENTER State Trade Expansion Program grants from the U.S. Small Business Administration provide funding to increase the number of businesses that export, and are administered in the state by Maine International Trade Center.

The Maine International Trade Center in Portland was awarded $400,000 in federal money to provide small businesses with the information and tools they need to succeed in export-related activities.

The money comes from a total of $20 million in grant funding awarded by the U.S. Small Business Administration to state international trade agencies throughout the country via a competitive application process to SBA’s State Trade Expansion Program grant program.

For the Maine International Trade Center, exporting activities include participating in foreign trade missions, market sales trips, designing international marketing campaigns, participating in export trade show exhibits, attending training workshops, and other means of engagement.

"During times of economic uncertainty, diversification of markets remains a sound business strategy, and international business is a key element," the center’s president, Wade Merritt, said in a news release. 

Since 2020, over 40 Maine small businesses have received financial assistance to support their international exporting goals, resulting in $5.1 million in actual sales and an additional $35.4 million projected in the next 12 to 18 months.  

The latest money will allow the center to help Maine companies take advantage of export markets for today and develop new opportunities for the years ahead, Merritt said.

SBA New England Regional Administrator Mike Vlacich noted that nearly 96% of consumers live outside the U.S. and two-thirds of the world’s purchasing power is in foreign countries.

This year marks the 10th year of the state Trade Expansion Program funding, which has awarded over $215 million to date. The program is considered a critical player in providing access to capital, access to markets, and access to buyers. 

Maine International Trade Center will begin accepting applications from eligible Maine companies for the new grant funds on Oct. 3. For more information, click here.

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