State Trade Expansion Program (STEP)

Van Andel Global Trade Center is MEDC's State Trade Expansion Program (STEP) Regional Export Network Host for West Michigan. Through Michigan's State Trade Expansion Program (STEP), Michigan businesses have access to the state’s Regional Export Network (REN). MEDC leverages partnerships at the federal, state, and local levels to deliver export services statewide. This program is the gateway to export services for Michigan businesses.

STEP works to increase the number of small business exporters and increases the value of exports for those who currently sell outside of the U.S. Qualifying Michigan companies can use the program to help diversify their customer base, provide long-term stability, and create new jobs. Continue reading for more information on how your company could benefit from this program or visit,

CURRENT FUNDING PERIOD: October 2020, through September 2021.

Note: All activities must take place during this time period.

MEDC Export Events


The MEDC International Trade Program has a new allocation of State Trade Expansion Program (STEP) funds available for eligible small business concerns. On August 27, 2021, the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) awarded Michigan the maximum state award of $2,000,000 in MI-STEP funds for FY22. With additional state match funding, the total funds available are $2.667 million.

The program has three primary objectives:

  • Increase the number of Michigan small businesses that export
  • Increase the dollar value of Michigan exports
  • Increase the number of Michigan small businesses exploring significant new trade opportunities

MI-STEP applications are accepted annually from October 1 through September 15. Applications must be received a minimum of three days prior to the activity start date. Applications received two days or less in advance are not eligible and will not be processed or approved.

Approved Export Activities for FY2021

Program funds may be approved for export marketing-related activities including:

  1. Participation in foreign trade missions
  2. U.S. Department of Commerce services
  3. International website design, development, and translation; search engine optimization and localization maintenance and monitoring; e-commerce fees including hosting and maintenance
  4. Design and translation of international marketing media, including social media and digital ad placements
  5. International trade show participation
  6. Foreign sales trip
  7. U.S.-based international trade show participation
  8. Participation in export training workshops
  9. Reverse foreign buyer missions (meeting space/audiovisual)
  10. Cost of compliance testing and/or international certifications
    for an existing product for entry into an export market
  11. Sample product shipping
  12. EXIM export credit insurance premiums


Up to $15,000 in assistance is available to offset 75 percent of pre-approved expenses per fiscal year. Michigan companies must meet the following eligibility criteria to qualify for MI-STEP funds:

  1. Be in accordance with Small Business Administration (SBA) guidelines and size standards:
  2. Demonstrate an understanding of the costs associated with exporting and doing business with foreign purchasers, including the costs of freight forwarding, customs brokers, packing, and shipping, per SBA guidelines
  3. Demonstrate potential for export success and positive impact on the regional economy
  4. Provide an EIN number linked to a Michigan address
  5. Be in good standing with the Michigan Department of Treasury and other regulatory agencies
  6. Must be an export-ready U.S. company seeking to export goods or services of U.S. origin or have at least 51 percent U.S. content

Determine U.S. Content

How Does MI-STEP Work?


Ineligible expenses include:

  • Meals, entertainment, cell phone charges, gifts, and personal expenses 
  • Passport and visa fees
  • Immunization expenses
  • Travel reimbursement for distributors or sales representatives not employed by the Michigan company
  • Fees for shipping products to be sold in market
  • Printing materials/services

Please also note:

  • Travel reimbursement is limited to two (2) travelers who must be U.S. citizens
  • Flights must adhere to Fly America/Open Skies agreements. Only economy flights are eligible for reimbursement — no upgrades
  • Mileage is reimbursable at the federal per diem rate — no gas receipts, unless used with a rental car

Contact your ITM to Apply

If you are unsure of your funding level OR are new to the program, please complete the online intake form.

Need portal access? Send full name, title & email address to your Regional International Trade Manager to request a username & password. 

For questions related to the new funding year, please contact your Regional International Trade Manager or the STEP Program Manager, Natalie Sandborn, at

MEDC 2021 -2022 Trade Events

Expo 2020 Mobility Trade Mission - Dubai, UAE | January 5-9, 2022


Join the Michigan International Trade Program for a mobility-focused trade mission to Expo 2020. The event includes a Mobility District and highlights travel and connectivity as a theme during the week of January 9–15, 2022. Inside the Mobility District, attendees can explore horizons that drive human progress as mobility continues to transform the way we live, connect with people, understand different cultures, and exchange knowledge and ideas.


  • Be part of a network for collaboration between nations, organizations, and innovators as travel and connectivity
    topics are explored, including digital connectivity, supply chains and trade, smart mobility, and smart cities.
  • Experience how the Mobility District creates connections to drive the world forward, breaking down the divide between the physical and digital worlds to build a harmonious, global society where information, ideas, and goods are exchanged faster than ever.
  • UAE ranked eighth in KPMG’s annual Autonomous Vehicles Readiness Index, performing well in technology infrastructure and the willingness of its people and government to embrace driverless cars.
  • Ride in autonomous vehicles, witness cutting-edge mobility technologies, and see innovative devices in action on an open-air, below ground track.
  • Explore mobility-focused country pavilions within the Mobility District, including Australia, Belgium, Croatia, Estonia, Finland, France, Hungary, Ireland, Ivory Coast, Jamaica, Korea, Oman, Peru, Poland, Russia, Serbia, Tanzania, Thailand, and Turkmenistan.


  • Kick-off conference call to establish company objectives and support requirements
  • Pre-visit market research
  • Customized appointments with prospective partners, distributors, and/or buyers held onsite at company locations throughout UAE


  • Pre-mission briefing
  • Welcome reception dinner
  • Evening networking reception at U.S Pavilion
  • B2B matchmaking meetings
  • Access to the Expo:
    - Valid for unlimited entries
    - Skip long lines with 10 daily Smart Queue Bookings at participating attractions
  • Ground transportation to B2B meetings and Expo
  • Hotel room block

Download the Flyer


  • $1,500 participation fee required by November 1, 2021
  • $250 per additional participant
  • Eligible Michigan SMEs may be eligible for 75% reimbursement for participation fees and travel expenses through MI-STEP

Registration deadline is November 5, 2021. Contact David Newhouse, MEDC International Trade Program, at 517.331.6715 or with questions.

South Korea and Japan Trade Mission | February 21-25, 2022


Join the Great Lakes St. Lawrence Governors & Premiers multi-sector trade mission to South Korea and Japan! Benefit from customized B2B meetings to meet with prospective customers and business partners, which is critical to establishing business relationships in the region. Let the MEDC trade offices in South Korea and Japan save you valuable time and resources to maximize your results.


In 2020, Japan ranked No. 6 in terms of Michigan’s volume of exports and South Korea ranked No. 5.

2020 bilateral MI–Japan trade in goods surpassed $4 billion and MI–South Korea trade in goods surpassed $7.6 billion. Japan’s GDP is valued at $5 trillion, ranking third in the world and second in East Asia. Korea’s GDP is valued at $1.6 trillion, ranking 10th in the world and thirrd in East Asia.

Korea’s leaders look to technology-intensive industries to drive growth:

  • Aerospace and defense
  • Energy
  • Environmental technology
  • Health care (medical devices, biotechnology, pharmaceuticals)
  • Industrial chemicals
  • Information technology components
  • Semi-conductor manufacturing
  • transportation

Top Michigan exports to Japan include:

  • Chemicals metal manufacturing
  • Computer and electronic products
  • Machinery
  • Transportation equipment


  • Mission briefing
  • Group ground transportation
  • Networking events
  • Logistical assistance
  • Customized B2B matchmaking meetings for up to four days of one-on-one meetings


  • Kick-off conference call to understand objectives of participation, products, and perceived route to the market
  • Pre-visit market research and briefings
  • Customized appointments with prospective partners, distributors, and buyers

Download the Flyer


  • $1,500 mission participation fee required by December 15, 2021
  • $500 per additional participant
  • Eligible companies may receive up to 75% reimbursement for travel expenses and mission fees through the State Trade Expansion Program (STEP).

For more information, visit

Please contact Weiwei Lu, International Trade Manager, MEDC at 616.540.4964 or

MEDC Support During COVID 19

MEDC continues to support Michigan businesses and communities as they are impacted by COVID-19.

Resources for small businesses impacted by COVID-19 are available at

Michigan Small Business Relief Program
Offers Funding to Businesses Impacted by COVID-19:

The news follows the authorization by the Michigan Strategic Fund to fund the Michigan Small Business Relief Program, which will provide up to $20 million in grants and loans to support businesses facing drastic reductions in cash flow and the continued support of their workforce.

The program authorizes the Michigan Economic Development Corporation to provide up to $10 million in small business grants and $10 million in small business loans to provide emergency relief to businesses directly impacted by the COVID-19 outbreak. Learn more about the Small Business Relief Program.

Pure Michigan Business Connect
Virtual Procurement, Donation Assistance:

The MEDC launched a new free, statewide online procurement and donation platform through its Pure Michigan Business Connect program for buyers and suppliers of critical health and human services across a broad range of categories, including local municipalities, to minimize the impact of the virus in the state. The platform will allow health and human service providers across Michigan in need of critical supplies to connect with vetted Michigan businesses and municipalities able to provide or donate goods and services.

Export Consultation:

MEDC's International Trade Program offers virtual and over-the-phone consultation to identify needs and connect you to resources and opportunities that align with your goals. Virtual resources include website translation, market research, SEO consultation, and legal support. Work with your regional International Trade Manager to see what services are available for your company right now. 

International Trade Centers:

MEDC's in-market experts serve over 90 countries offering business matchmaking services, customized market research, pricing analysis, and more. For companies looking to reach established or emerging markets, MEDC's international trade centers offer simple, responsive, and comprehensive services and are available online or over the phone. Contact your International Trade Manager to schedule a call with our local experts today.

For more information on the upcoming Trade Missions, Trade Shows and Exporting Events & Trainings visit the Michigan Economic Development Corporation's website.