California State Trade and Export Promotion Program (California STEP)

The California State Trade Expansion Program (commonly referred to as California STEP) is designed to drive exports for California small businesses. California STEP leverages a statewide network of state, federal, private and non-profit trade promotion organizations to facilitate export promotion, activities, serving targeted industries, to increase the number of California small businesses that are exporting and increase the dollar value of exports by those small businesses that are currently exporting.

For more information and to register, visit California STEP.

California STEP goals are simple:

  • If you are exporting, we’d like to help your business export more.
  • If you are not exporting, we’d like to help you get started. 
California STEP can help you answer:

  • What opportunities are there for my firm to connect with overseas buyers in California?
  • How can my firm maximize our marketing efforts through trade shows abroad?
  • Who can I contact to shorten my time for export assistance?
  • What opportunities exist for my firm to get specialized export training and assistance?
How Will STEP Help Small Businesses?
  • Support for small business participation in foreign trade missions and foreign market sales trips
  • Subscription to services by the Department of Commerce
  • Trade show exhibitions
  • Participation in training

Financial Assistance

California STEP Program provides financial assistance to eligible small businesses for the following purposes: 

  • Participation in foreign trade missions and foreign market sales trips
  • Subscription services from the U.S. Department of Commerce
  • Website translation fees
  • Design of international marketing media
  • Export tradeshow exhibitions
  • Participation in export training
  • Other export initiatives determined to be appropriate by the OIT

Industries We Serve

  • Information and communications technology
  • Green technologies
  • Food and agricultural producers and growers
  • Industrial machinery
  • Building and infrastructure products and services
  • California lifestyle products
  • Other (inquire about ICEP program)

California STEP Partners

  • California Governor's Office of Business and Economic Development  (GO-BIZ)
  • California Department of Food & Agriculture
  • The California Community Colleges' Centers for International Trade Development (CITD)

With additional support from the U.S. Department of Commerce, Commercial Service, the US Small Business Administration, Office of International Trade, The Los Angeles Regional Export Council, California Chamber of Commerce, and others. 

California STEP Activities 2016/2017 (to be announced soon):

The project will conduct fourteen (14) unique export promotion activities including domestic and market-focused marketing campaigns, customized product/promotion localization assistance, and matchmaking services connecting small businesses to potential customers.

Basic Qualifications to Participate in California STEP:

  • Comply with SBA size standards found at 13 C.F.R. Part 121
  • Been in business for not less than the 1-year period ending on the date on which assistance is provided under a STEP grant
  • Operating and incorporated in the United States
  • Demonstrated understanding of the costs associated with exporting and doing business with foreign purchasers, including the costs of freight forwarding, customs brokers, packing, and shipping
  • Have in effect a strategic plan for exporting 


For more information and to register, please visit California STEP.


Jeffrey Williamson
Statewide Director, CITD & California STEP Director
Riverside Community College District Center for International Trade Development
Phone: 951-571-6458

Diana Dominguez
Special Advisor for International Trade & GO-Biz STEP Manager
California Governor’s Office of Business and Economic Development
Phone: 916-322-0645

The STEP program is funded in part through a grant award by the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA). Funding is not an endorsement of any product, opinion, or service. No federal grant funds are being used for any entertainment costs associated with trade promotion or export marketing activities. All Federal and State funded programs are extended to the public on a nondiscriminatory basis. Special arrangements for individuals with disability will be made if requested in advance.

The State Trade Expansion Program (commonly referred to as STEP) is an export development program authorized by the Small Business Jobs Act of 2010. Funded by federal cooperative agreement awards and matching funds from the states. The STEP Program is executed by the Office of International Trade (OIT), U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA).