DEED Programs
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Exporting Programs

The STEP program provides financial and technical assistance to qualifying Minnesota small businesses with an active interest in exporting products or services to foreign markets.

Participants may be first-time exporters or companies that are currently exporting but are interested in expanding into new international markets.

Financial Assistance Available

Small businesses may apply for reimbursement of up to $500 for export-training that will result in the development of an export strategy or up to $7,500 for approved export-development activities, including:

  • Participation in trade missions
  • Exhibiting at trade shows or industry-specific events
  • Translation of marketing materials
  • Development of foreign language websites
  • Gold Key or other business matchmaking services
  • Company-specific international sales activities
  • Testing and certification (such as CE marking) required to sell products in foreign markets

Learn eligibility requirements

DEED’s international trade representatives guide companies through the challenges of conducting international business.

From basic guidance for companies new to exporting, to technical, regulatory and logistical information for more experienced companies, to market intelligence and research, to the art conducting business across borders and cultures, our international trade representatives have answers for your most pressing questions.

Trade Assistance Helpline

For general trade assistance the helpline at 651-259-7498 to reach an international trade representative who can either answer your questions or make appropriate referrals. Email us at and someone will followup with you quickly.

International Trade Finance Guide

The U.S. Trade Information Center’s Trade Finance Guide is a good resource that provides an overview of export finance resources.

U.S. Small Business Administration – Office of International Trade

The SBA offers several trade financing programs. Contact the SBA’s Minnesota District Office at 612-370-2324 for additional information about accessing SBA financing programs.

Export-Import Bank of the United States

The Export-Import Bank of the United States (Ex-Im Bank) is the official export credit agency of the United States. Ex-Im Bank’s mission is to assist in financing the export of U.S. goods and services through a variety of insurance, loan and guarantee programs. Minnesota-based companies should contact the Ex-Im Bank office in Chicago at 312- 353-8081 for assistance. Learn more about Ex-IM Bank.

Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC)

OPIC supports U.S. investment in emerging markets worldwide, fostering development and growth of free markets. OPIC Financing provides medium- to long-term funding through direct loans and loan guaranties to eligible investment projects in developing countries and emerging markets. By complementing the private sector, OPIC can provide financing in countries where conventional financial institutions often are reluctant or unable to lend on such a basis. Learn more about OPIC.

Market Development Cooperator Program (MDCP)

MDCP is a competitive matching funds program that builds public/private partnerships by providing federal assistance to non-profit export multipliers such as states, trade associations, chambers of commerce, world trade centers and other non-profit industry groups that are particularly effective in reaching small- and medium-size enterprises (SMEs). MDCP awards help to underwrite the start up costs of exciting new export marketing ventures which these groups are often reluctant to undertake without Federal Government support. Learn more about MDCP.

U.S. Trade and Development Agency

One of the TDA’s primary activities is the grant funding of feasibility studies and other project planning activities for major projects in developing and middle-income countries. The studies are conducted by U.S. private sector firms and represent a wide range of host government high priority sectors, including energy, transportation, telecommunications, information technology, manufacturing, minerals development, and the environment. Learn more about USTDA.

There is a world of opportunity out there!

Exporting is big business in Minnesota. But the benefits of global markets are not only available to the largest businesses.  Rather, a large number of small and mid-sized businesses in Minnesota export a significant amount of their products.  In the Vadnais Heights and northeast metro community, many businesses are taking advantage of markets overseas and getting resources and incentives to take their business global!

GreatermspGreater MSP MN Export Services 


Exporting to Grow Your Business

Small & Mid-Sized Companies

88% of our exporters are small to medium size businesses.

Minnesota's Export Markets

Our region’s top export markets are Canada, China, Mexico. Other big markets: Belgium, the Philippines and Ireland.

Minnesota Manufacturing

Manufacturers help to drive Minnesota’s economy, with $19.74 billion in manufactured goods exports in 2014.

Minnesota Exporting & Jobs

In 2011 (latest year available), over one-fifth (22.4 %) of all manufacturing workers in Minnesota depended on exports for their jobs.
VHEDC has certainly helped our company. We are trying to expand our market reach into Europe. Through your help you introduced us to the step grant program. You were able to help us expedite the process through DEED to not only apply but to get approval for a project within one week. Thank you again for your tremendous help and support in all you do.
Larry Grundtner
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Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development

Take your business to places you've never gone before!
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