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Department of State

The Hon. Tahesha Way, Lt. Governor and Secretary of State

New Jersey Awarded $850K in Funding to Expand Small Business Exporting

Trenton, NJ - The New Jersey Business Action Center (NJBAC) announced today that it was awarded $850,000 in federal funds for the New Jersey State Trade Expansion Program (NJSTEP) to support businesses in underserved communities throughout the state.

NJBAC, a division of the Department of State, received funding for NJSTEP to provide financial awards to eligible small businesses entering the export market, as well as businesses who are already engaged in international trade. The program is funded through a grant with the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA).

"We are thrilled to receive this significant grant, the third highest in the nation, for our State Trade Expansion Program," said Lieutenant Governor Tahesha Way. "This funding will be instrumental in helping Minority, LGBTQIA+, Women and Veteran-owned New Jersey businesses tap into new global opportunities, driving economic growth and creating new jobs in our state."

The state’s successful NJSTEP program has been awarded funding for eleven consecutive years and received the third highest grant from the U.S. Small Business Administration this year. The program has previously assisted hundreds of businesses, throughout the state leading to millions of dollars in export sales globally.

“If you are a business owner who has already realized the potential of a global market or an entrepreneur seeking to increase sales and profit by taking your business worldwide, we encourage you to explore this opportunity,” said Melanie Willoughby, executive director at the New Jersey Business Action Center.

Recipients that have previously benefited from a NJSTEP grant award include Health Enhanced Foods, a specialty baking supply company based in Rockaway. Among other awardees include Kekoa Foods, an organic baby food brand based in West Orange that used NJSTEP grant funding to showcase its product at the 2023 Fancy Food Show in New York City.

"In our first year of operation, we established a connection with the New Jersey Business Action Center. Thanks to their grant assistance, we upgraded our website's SEO capabilities to reach a wider audience,” said Danny Auld, co-Founder and president of Kekoa Foods. “The financial backing and guidance from the NJBAC have played an indispensable role in our endeavor to expand and elevate our business presence in New Jersey."

NJSTEP financial awards can be applied to export-related activities, including participation in Department of Commerce organized trade missions, internationally focused trade shows, and fees for services provided by the U.S. Commercial Service. Other activities that qualify include, website and marketing literature translation into foreign languages, and export training workshops.

The NJ State Trade Expansion Program (NJSTEP) is administered by NJBAC’s Office of Export Promotion. For additional information about the program and the competitive application process, visit the NJBAC’s website at or call 1-800-JERSEY-7.

About the NJ Business Action Center
The New Jersey Business Action Center serves as the State's liaison to the business community, offering free information, services, and resources across various areas such as business registration, financial programs, regulatory compliance, property selection, workforce training, and more. NJBAC comprises multiple offices, including Small Business, Business Advocacy, Export Promotion, State Planning, and the Motion Picture and Television Commission. Access to NJBAC services is available through NJ DOS - NJ Business Action Center or Your first stop for doing business in NJ or by calling 1-800-JERSEY-7.

About the U.S. Small Business Administration
The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) helps Americans start, build, and grow businesses. Created in 1953 as an independent agency of the federal government, the SBA aids, counsels, assists, and protects the interests of small business concerns, preserves free competitive enterprise and maintains and strengthens the overall economy of the country. To learn more visit


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