The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) has awarded more than $120,000 to the World Trade Center (WTC) Arkansas to help businesses in the state.
WTC received $124,722 through the SBA’s State Trade Expansion Program (STEP). This program is designed to help small businesses develop export opportunities. According to the SBA website, the goal of STEP funding is to “increase the number of U.S. small businesses that export, the dollar value of exports and the number of U.S. small businesses exploring significant new trade opportunities.”
In total, the SBA had $19 million in grants available, which 48 state international trade agencies competed to receive.
The Arkansas funding for 2020 represents a 25 percent increase over last year’s award, according to SBA Arkansas District Office director Edward Haddock.
“The STEP award from the SBA will be immensely helpful to our state’s small businesses that are seeking to export their goods, and the World Trade Center Arkansas has been an important partner in providing the resources and assistance for these businesses to reach global markets,” Haddock said in a statement.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, Arkansas had $6.232 billion in exports in 2019, the most recent year with full data. This was a decline of 3.4 percent from 2018 when the state had $6.449 billion in exports.
Arkansas’ biggest export category was civilian aircraft, engines and parts, which accounted for 16.7 percent of the state’s exports. Aircraft exports brought in $1.039 billion in 2019.
The top five export categories are rounded out by railway or tramway tank cars; chemical woodpulp, soda or sulfate; rice; and airplanes and other aircraft.