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Source: United States House of Representatives – Representative Ross Spano (FL-15)

Washington, D.C. Today, U.S. Representative Ross Spano (R-FL) and Abby Finkenauer (D-IA) introduced H.R. 6133, the ‘Step Improvement Act of 2020’. The bill aims to increase the number of small businesses that export and raise the value of existing small business exporters—thus helping increase sales volume for small businesses, which helps create businesses grow and create more jobs.

“Businesses need certainty, and the STEP Improvement Act is just one more way we can help our businesses grow,” said Rep. Spano. “It just makes sense to streamline the process for helping American small businesses compete in the international marketplace. Less red tape means more sales, which in turn means more jobs here at home. Good jobs are critical to all Americans.”

The ‘Small Business Jobs Act of 2010’ authorized the Small Business Administration (SBA) to establish a three-year State Trade and Export Promotion (STEP) pilot grant initiative. Given the success of the pilot program in helping small businesses nationwide increase exports, H.R. 6133 reauthorizes STEP for four additional years (Fiscal Year 2021-24) and $30 million in funding. The legislation would further improve the operation of the program by creating a standardized application process, increasing grant spending flexibility, improving communication between SBA and states and enhancing performance metrics for reporting to Congress.

“Extending STEP gives us an opportunity to make it even more successful and address the challenges that we’ve heard from folks at all levels,” Rep. Finkenauer said. “This bill will help the program to run more effectively. Our policies need to be smart and fair for Iowa small business owners and hard-working Iowans, and we’re going to keep doing everything we can to ensure they can thrive in our communities.”

Exporting is key within Florida and has a huge impact on our state and local economy. It is estimated that more than 232,000 jobs are supported by international trade and over 56,000 small businesses export their goods and services. In 2018, Florida was the 8th largest exporter in the United States.

Rep. Spano sits on the House Small Business Committee, serving as the Ranking Member of the Subcommittee on Investigations, Oversight, and Regulations. He also serves on the Economic Growth, Tax and Capital Access Subcommittee.

H.R. 6133 was passed in the Small Business Committee and will be voted on the floor in the next few weeks. 

The Step Improvement Act of 2020 would:

• Establish a standardized timeframe for the STEP grant application period, ensuring states have enough time and predictability to submit their applications.

• Require states to submit a budget plan in their application package but allow them to revise their budget plans post-award to foster more flexibility.

• Ensure SBA gives feedback to unsuccessful applicants about how to improve their applications and explain the amount given to successful applicants if it was different from their requested amount.

• Require SBA to conduct an annual survey of STEP grant recipients to get feedback on how the program is serving states.

• Require the SBA Associate Administrator’s annual report to include demographic information on small businesses assisted by STEP, detailed information about best practices for states, lessons learned by grants recipients to assist low-performing states, an analysis of the annual survey, and an analysis of new performance metrics.