HARLINGEN — The U.S. Small Business Administration has announced some $440,000 has been handed to the Texas Department of Agriculture to help state farmers and others increase their export trade.

The State Trade Expansion Program grants are designed to help small businesses in the United States increase their footprint in overseas markets.

“The 2020 STEP award allows the State of Texas to assist small businesses with the information and tools needed to succeed in export-related activities such as participating in foreign trade missions and foreign market sales trips, obtaining services provided by the U.S. Department of Commerce, accessing expertise in designing international marketing campaigns and export trade show exhibits, participating in training workshops and more,” said Angela R. Burton, district director for the SBA’s Lower Rio Grande Valley District.

Small businesses in the Lower Rio Grande Valley District which meet the eligibility rules can apply for a grant of up to $10,000 from the state ag department. The application deadline is Oct. 29.

“The opportunities for small businesses to grow by exporting are substantial, especially during this unprecedented time,” Burton added. “The COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in a paradigm shift to increased web-based sales and virtual trade missions to reach 95 percent of the world’s consumers located outside the United States.”

The STEP program was put into place a decade ago to boost U.S.-produced exports. So far, SBA has awarded $157 million in grants to fund export opportunities.

Interested business owners can go online to the SBA’s business guide to exporting products here https://www.sba.gov/business-guide/grow-your-business/export-products.