At Mobile Tech Company, Cantwell Highlights Impact of New $1.6M Investment for Small Business Jobs

First Grants from Cantwell-Backed Program Will Provide 100 Washington Small Businesses with Tools to Increase Exports and Create Jobs

SEATTLE, WA – Today, U.S. Senator Maria Cantwell (D-WA) and the Washington Department of Commerce highlighted a new $1.6 million grant to help approximately 100 Washington state small businesses increase their exports worldwide and create jobs.

The investment comes as part of the first installment of grants under the new State Trade and Export Promotion (STEP) program, which was created under the Small Business Jobs Act (SBJA). Cantwell, a member of the Senate Small Business Committee, was instrumental in passing the small business bill, and fought to include provisions to create opportunities for small businesses to expand and hire.

On Sunday, Cantwell toured Swype, a Seattle mobile phone technology company that has increased its exports and expanded from 3 to nearly 100 employees over the past three years. She also spoke with Enprecis, a Seattle auto technology small business that intends to significantly increase its exports through the STEP program.

“This investment will give Washington state small businesses the tools to succeed in a global economy and create jobs here at home,” Cantwell said. “Small businesses are the engines that drive our economy, making up 75 percent of job growth in America. We fought for this export program in the Small Business Jobs Act to help small businesses expand and power our economic recovery.”

One of every three Washington state jobs is tied to exports and trade. Companies that export are more productive than those that do not and workers in export-intensive services earn on average 15% to 20% more than those in other service industries. 

This new investment is expected to expand export assistance programs at the departments of Commerce and Agriculture and assist up to $58 million in new export sales at nearly 100 Washington state small businesses.

“These funds will help our small businesses the lifeblood of our economy export their products to emerging markets overseas,” Gov. Chris Gregoire said. “Washington state is already seeing strong growth in state exports - and we know there is the potential for greater growth. I commend Sen. Cantwell for her important work to build on that success, encourage job creation and help our state achieve a full economic recovery.” 

Exports are a bright spot in a struggling state economy. Sales directly attributed to export assistance programs have grown at a record pace over the past two years and continue to exceed projections.

The STEP program provides $30 million in funding per year for three years to states to help small businesses increase exports by boosting the amount and value of their products going to overseas markets. Washington’s $1.6 million grant is the third highest in the nation.

Enacted into law on September 27, 2010, the Small Business Jobs Act established a new Small Business Lending Fund, provided immediate tax relief to small businesses, and secured a permanent extension of enhancements to Small Business Administration (SBA) loan guarantee programs.

Cantwell, a member of the Senate Small Business and Finance committees, played a leading role in authoring and championing the Small Business Jobs Act, a measure helping small businesses create and preserve hundreds of thousands of jobs through tax incentives and expanded private-sector lending.

To learn more about Senator Cantwell’s efforts to help small business put America back to work, click here.