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 2021, through September 2022.

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 FY22

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?

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

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 [email protected]

MEDC 2022 - 2023 Trade Events

TRADE MISSION TO MEDICA | Dusseldorf, Germany | November 12, 2022 – November 18, 2022



Companies in the medical sector are invited to position their products and services in front of interested buyers and partners within the Michigan Pavilion, a 101-square-meter booth located in MEDICA’s medical devices, imaging, and diagnostics hall. Leverage this platform at the world’s largest medical trade show to connect with opportunities worldwide and experience tomorrow’s healthcare market today.

Why Attend?

  • As the largest medical trade show in the world, MEDICA attracts thousands of exhibitors from more than 50 countries.
  • Leaders from the fields of business, research, and politics convene here, alongside thousands of international experts and decision-makers.
  • The extensive exhibition hosts an ambitious program that presents the entire spectrum of innovations for outpatient and clinical care.
  • Visitors attracted to the show are general practitioners, hospital doctors and managers, laboratory managers, medical specialized trade, and more. 

Full-Service B2B Outreach

  • Kickoff call to understand your export and market-entry strategies and trade show objectives.
  • Assistance in building a LinkedIn profile that sells, as well as a German-based B2B profile on ‘XING,’ an SME business community that is popular in Germany. 
  • Development of concise and compelling key messaging in German to connect to your customized leads, as well as support on MEDICA’s proprietary B2B platform. 
  • Full-service management of your profile while lead generation experts pitch to your target decision makers, vetting buyers, partners, and distributors for you to meet with at MEDICA.
  • Support with post-show follow up to continue business discussions. 

Areas of Focus at MEDICA

  • Imaging and diagnostics
  • Medical equipment and devices
  • IT systems and solutions
  • Laboratory equipment
  • Physiotherapy/orthopedic tech

  Michigan Pavilion

  • 101 square meters of prime booth space next to the U.S. Commercial Service 
  • Your company’s branded kiosk within the booth
  • Internet connection and power accessibility
  • Private meeting space 

Let us get started on your full-service B2B outreach now – Register Today!

  • $2,500 participation fee includes exhibition, welcome reception, and B2B service.
  • Eligible companies may receive up to 75% reimbursement for participation and travel expenses through MI-STEP. For details, visit

For more information, contact

Brendan Cherry, MEDC International Trade Manager 517.243.9877 or [email protected]

For more details and to apply click here


Cancellation Policy

  • Payments are 100% refundable if a written notice of cancellation is received by August 30, 2022.
  • After August 30, funds refunded will be the amount paid less the $1,000 exhibitor registration fee.
  • After October 14, no refunds will be issued.

Trade Mission to India - New Delhi, Pune, & Bangalore | January 10 - 19, 2023

Registration Deadline: October 31, 2022

Looking for a great start to your company’s 2023 growth projections? India is a nation of 1.4 billion consumers with an especially strong demand for the following Michigan-made products, services, and technologies: 

  • Advanced manufacturing, design, and engineering services 
  • Aerospace/defense  
  • Automotive 
  • Environment and pollution control  
  • IT/ICT 
  • Machinery and equipment  
  • Medical equipment  

Why India? 

  • India’s population includes a growing middle-class of 350 million consumers. 
  • India is the world’s sixth-largest economy with a GDP of $2.66 trillion, and Moody’s projects that India’s GDP will expand by 9.5% this year and 8.4% in 2023.  
  • India is home to the world’s fourth largest automotive industry. 
  • According to the World Bank, among 190 countries, India recently jumped fifteen spots (from 77 to 62) in ease of doing business.  


Date & Time: January 10-19, 2023

Location: New Delhi, Pune, and Bangalore

Admission Fee:
Automation Alley Members: $4,500

For more information, please email Lisa Lasser – [email protected]

 7 Reasons to Join Automation Alley & MEDC's Trade Mission to India:  

  1. Our trade missions are results-driven. They’ve generated over $1.8 billion in export sales and created 9,104 local jobs. 
  2. We get you connected to the right people. Matchmaking meetings will place you directly in touch with potential buyers and end users of your products, services, and technologies 
  3. The timing is right. We’ve included the option to attend Auto Expo Components Show 2023 ( and Auto Expo Motor Show 2023 (  
  4. We help you learn how to do business internationally. Meet the key players you need to know to be successful in India. Attend business meetings with government officials and business and industry leaders who will share their firsthand insights about the opportunities and challenges of doing business in India.  
  5. We take care of all the details. Our team takes care of planning before, during, and after the mission.
  6. Reimbursement for up to 75% of the cost. You may qualify for a grant to reduce the costs of participating in the mission through the Michigan State Trade and Expansion Program (MI-STEP). 
  7. We’re trusted and recognized for our expertise. Automation Alley received the President's "E Star"​ Award from Presidents Joe Biden (2021), Barack Obama (2013), and George W. Bush (2008)---the nation’s highest, most prestigious international trade award granted to organizations in recognition of their accomplishments in global trade and economic development. Automation Alley is only the second organization in the nation to receive the award three times since JFK created it in 1961.

Participation Details

  • Participation is limited to ten companies.
  • Registration deadline is October 31, 2022. 
  • Participation fee is $4,500 for Automation Alley members and $5,500 for non-members. Price includes embassy business briefings, group dinners, meetings with local trade organizations, matchmaking meetings, business tours, in-country ground transportation, five-star hotels, and dinner receptions. Airfare not included. 
  • Eligible companies may receive up to 75% reimbursement for travel expenses and mission fees, through the State Trade Expansion Program.

South Africa and Kenya Trade Mission | FEBRUARY 13 - 17, 2023

Deadline to register: December 1, 2022

Join the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Governors & Premiers multi-sector trade mission to Johannesburg, South Africa, and Nairobi, Kenya! Benefit from customized B2B meetings to meet with prospective customers and business partners, and allow our in-market International Trade Center to save you valuable time and resources.

There has been significant U.S. export growth to South Africa and Kenya through May 2022, up 17% and 46% respectively.

  • Michigan companies can benefit from South Africa’s geographic advantages, logistics infrastructure, widespread use of English, and relatively transparent legal processes.
  • Kenya is a market-based economy and the economic, commercial, financial, and logistics hub of East Africa. There is a young, growing, and educated English-speaking population with high fluency in technology.


Dates: February 12 - 17, 2023

Location: Johannesburg, South Africa, and Nairobi, Kenya

Space is limited – apply now!

  • $1,500 participation fee is required by December 1, 2022
  • $500 per additional participant
  • Eligible companies may receive up to 75% reimbursement for participation and travel expenses through MI-STEP. For details, visit

Deadline to register: December 1, 2022

Click here for more information or contact Brendan Cherry, MEDC International Trade Manager, at 517.243.9877 or [email protected].

Trade Mission to IDEX 2023 | FEBRUARY 18 - 25, 2023

Position your company in the largest defense show in the MENA region. Exhibit within the Michigan booth in the AUSA Pavilion!

IDEX is the only international defense exhibition and conference in the MENA region demonstrating the latest technology across land, sea, and air sectors of defense, with a strong focus on ground-based military.

Michigan Booth:

  • Accommodates up to 8 companies
  • Each company receives its own kiosk with a lockable counter, graphics, and signage
  • Outward-facing kiosk with a prominent presence to interact with exhibition traffic
  • Internet connection and power accessibility
  • Central shared meeting tables

Matchmaking Opportunities:

  • Kick-off conference call to establish the company’s goals and support requirements
  • Pre-visit market research
  • Customized appointments with prospective partners, distributors, and/or buyers
  • Official delegation visits to the booth


Date: February 18 -  25, 2023

Location: Abu Dhabi, UAE

Space is limited – apply now!

  •  $3,000 participation fee includes a pre-mission briefing, welcome reception, exhibition, and customized B2B matchmaking.
  • Eligible Michigan SMEs may be eligible for 75% reimbursement for participation fees and travel expenses through MI-STEP.

For more information please contact: Chris Bosio, MEDC International Trade Program - 517.348.9256  or [email protected]

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 September 6, 2022