New state-federal partnership to open export opportunities for SMBs

LANSING–State officials Monday announced a new partnership with the U.S. Trade and Development Agency to make more export opportunities available for small and medium-sized businesses.

Under the deal, the Michigan Economic Development Corp. will work with the agency’s Making Global Local initiative to boost exports.

The initiative connects United States businesses to priority infrastructure projects in developing and middle-income countries, and it launched Making Global Local to increase the U.S. supplier base participating in the USTDA export promotion program.

USTDA achieves its mission by funding feasibility studies, technical assistance, and pilot projects that integrate the innovation and expertise of U.S. companies. Through this partnership with MEDC’s International Trade program, Michigan companies will have access to procurement opportunities related to these efforts for engineering services, field studies, equipment rental, construction and consulting work.

“This partnership with USTDA creates opportunities for business growth and job creation across the state by highlighting actual procurement opportunities on critical infrastructure projects around the world,” said Natalie Chmiko, vice president of Pure Michigan Business Connect and international trade at the MEDC. “This effort will also bring additional visibility on an international level to Michigan’s strengths in critical growth industries including professional services and engineering, design and development to create a strong foundation for a resilient economy here in the state.”

To help Michigan companies learn more about the initiative and how to get involved, the MEDC and USTDA will be hosting an introductory webinar for Michigan companies on the Making Global Local program on Tuesday, Nov. 10 from 2 to 3 p.m. Eastern time. This is an opportunity for companies engaged in advanced manufacturing, engineering, and infrastructure development work to explore significant export opportunities in global markets. Additional information on registering for the webinar is available at

“USTDA is proud to welcome the Michigan Economic Development Corporation as our new Making Global Local partner,” said Todd Abrajano, COO of the USTDA. “This agency stands at the ready to work with the MEDC to generate new exports and showcase the best of the wolverine state.””

In fiscal year 2019, export sales generated $682 million in revenue for Michigan businesses, with more than 300 companies receiving more than $2 million in support through export grant programs administered by the International Trade program.

This USTDA partnership builds on the announcement earlier this month that Michigan received $1.35 million through the U.S. Small Business Administration State Trade Expansion Program (STEP) for the coming year. The award was the top STEP award in the nation for the fourth year in a row, increasing access for Michigan businesses to global markets and buyers. The Michigan Strategic Fund provided an additional $450,000 as the state match to support the Michigan STEP grant initiative (MI-STEP), now in its 10th year of supporting financial assistance for exporting activities of eligible Michigan businesses.

In September, the Michigan Strategic Fund also approved an increase in the maximum grant reimbursement under STEP from 50 percent to 75 percent, maintaining the annual cap of $15,000 per company. The MSF also approved an extension through fiscal year 2021 of eligible activities allowed under the program, including e-commerce and compliance testing, as well as increased website expenses to help companies grow their visibility in target markets through today’s evolving business environment.

For more information on the MEDC and its initiatives, visit

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