2022 OEDC Stakeholder Report

Small Business Export Assistance

​Exporting can be a very effective expansion strategy for small businesses, and it directly equates to job growth. Companies that export are known to be more resilient, pay higher wages and can weather storms better. The Small Business Export Assistance (SBEA) team works with small businesses throughout the state, helping them successfully enter new markets or expand activities in existing ones, and connecting them with advocacy and risk mitigation, market research, B2B matchmaking, export training, trade missions, and state pavilions at international trade shows, an affordable and effective way to gain international visibility. Virtual export-related activities are allowing the SBEA team to expand its geographic outreach and assist a larger number of small businesses to expand their trade operations, particularly those in rural and underserved communities. This strategy and programming are drawing in new businesses that haven’t considered international trade as a core business activity, creating growth and diversification opportunities in a volatile economy as businesses reach out to new markets and new customers abroad. Since international travel resumed the SBEA team pivoted once again to a blended model of virtual and in-person events, including over 20 international trade shows and missions.

Businesses were supported primarily through the Export Voucher Program, which offers qualifying companies that are new to exports or entering new markets up to $10,000 to offset international business development expenses, including joining the Washington State booth at targeted international trade shows. Funded in part by the SBA’s State Trade Expansion Program, the vouchers can be used to defray trade show or trade mission fees, airfare, website translation services, export training programs and more.

Notes: In 2022 international travel and trade show attendance resumed. Most companies participated in more than one export-related activity, benefiting from up to three export vouchers. In addition, an increased number of one-on-one technical assistance were provided.

The OEDC actively recruits businesses that represent rural and underserved communities. This chart shows the results of this effort to extend the STEP Voucher program to businesses throughout the state. Results are self-reported and not all businesses self-identify with one of these demographics. Some report in more than one category, such as a veteran-owned business in a rural community.

Small Business Export Assistance team members work with small businesses throughout the state to either create new export opportunities or increase existing opportunities through participation in • Export Strategy Counseling • Trade Shows and Trade Missions • Market Research & Trade Data Analysis • Business Matchmaking: partners/distributors search, lead generation and virtual B2B. • Export Opportunities Webinars • Export trainings • STEP Vouchers


Notes: In 2021 companies participated in an increased number of virtual export-related activities due to the pandemic, including trainings and webinars.

Africa: most notably South Africa; Asia: China, Japan, South Korea, India and Taiwan primarily; South/Latin America: Argentina and Brazil; Middle East, notably UAE and Israel.

Agriculture companies were supported through export training and export vouchers only.

OEDC Consultant Network

12 strategic partners covering 23 countries to connect WA businesses with potential buyers/distributors/partners.

The Small Business Export Assistance team at Commerce has built a network of consultants around the globe with expertise in the markets and business cultures to help Washington companies succeed in exporting.