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 2023, through September 2024.

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

MEDC Export Events


The MEDC International Trade Program has a new allocation of Michigan State Trade Expansion Program (MI-STEP) funds available now for eligible small businesses. The U.S. Small Business Administration awarded Michigan $900,000 for the 2024 fiscal year which began Oct. 1. The total funding available is $1.2 million thanks to combined federal and additional state match funds.

Due to a tremendous response from Michigan exporters in the 2023 fiscal year, MEDC disbursed 100 percent of the available $1.86 million of MI-STEP funds in record time. Given the high demand for these funds and to better support companies’ critical export development activities, two MI-STEP changes are in effect. To allow funding to support as many businesses as possible, the reimbursement rate has returned to 50 percent from the 75 percent rate that was maintained throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, and international ground transportation is no longer a MI-STEP-eligible expense.

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. Reimbursements are subject to funding availability on a first-come, first-served basis.

Approved Export Activities for FY24

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


Assistance is available up to 50 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?

Michigan STEP Program video


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
  • International ground transportation is no longer an MI-STEP-eligible expense

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

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 [email protected]

MEDC 2024 Trade Events

April 20-27: GSGP’s Trade Mission to Vietnam and the Philippines
Join the MEDC and the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Governors & Premiers for a multi-sector trade mission to Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam and Manila, Philippines. Benefit from customized B2B meetings and allow our in-market international trade center to save you valuable time and resources. Register now to meet new customers and partners in these strong and fast-growing markets.

April 27-May 4: Trade Mission to the United Kingdom and the Netherlands
Join the MEDC for a trade mission to London, United Kingdom and Amsterdam, Netherlands. Participants will receive customized schedules of B2B meetings with prospective buyers, partners, and distributors. The mission also includes a cultural excursion, welcome reception, and negotiated group hotel rates.

May 2-15: Automation Alley’s Trade Mission to Australia and New Zealand
Hosted by Automation Alley, up to ten companies are invited to engage in B2B meetings with potential buyers on this trade mission to Australia and New Zealand. The Australia-U.S. Free Trade Agreement allows 99% of U.S. exports to enter duty-free, and a shared common culture, business practices, and legal framework reduces non-tariff barriers to export to these markets.

June 17-21: Trade Mission to Eurosatory
Join the Michigan exhibition within the U.S. Pavilion at Eurosatory 2024 and connect with defense and homeland security professionals from around the world. Eurosatory features all products and components in the air and land defense and security supply chains.

June 8-14: GSGP’s Trade Mission to Brazil and Chile
Join the MEDC and the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Governors & Premiers for a multi-sector trade mission to Sao Paulo, Brazil and Santiago, Chile. These countries are strong U.S. trading partners and Brazil is home to South America’s largest consumer market and GDP. Because these markets have complex regulatory and tax frameworks, leverage this opportunity to enter the market with assistance from Michigan’s knowledgeable in-country trade experts.

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

Page last modified February 12, 2024