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U.S. Commercial Service Programs

U.S. Commercial Service LogoResearching and finding partners in international markets can be difficult for you to do on your own. Partners like ExportMontana and the US Commercial Service (USCS) can be key to your global market entry success.

To help defray the costs of market research and entry services, Montana STEP grant provides partial reimbursement for US Commercial Service programs.

* Submit your application at least 30 days before the USCS service.


  • 75% reimbursement of service fees, up to $5,000
  • If applicable, a travel stipend for 1 staff per company (importers, in-country reps, and distributors are NOT eligible for the stipend), up to $2,000

*All air travel must comply with the Fly America Act which requires international destination flights on a U.S. Flag Carrier. Contact ExportMontana with questions.

 Eligible Small Businesses

To be eligible for the Montana STEP grant, you must:

  • have been in business for more than 1 year
  • meet the SBA’s definition of a small business
  • market products that are of U.S. origin or have at least 51% U.S. content
  • show in the STEP application your understanding of the costs associated with exporting and doing business with foreign purchasers, including the costs of freight forwarding, customs brokers, packing and shipping, etc.
  • agree to provide the program with export activities/results from the grant activities

Eligible Expenses

*If an anticipated cost is not listed above, contact ExportMontana to ensure eligibility.

For more information about U.S. Service Commercial programs contact:

Carey Hester  |  carey.hester@trade.gov

Watch our October 2020 webinar covering market research oppurtunities such as the RAISE program here.

Ineligible Expenses

  • Creation of or supplementing a reserve or contingency fund or account;
  • Match or support for any other Federal projects;
  • Entertainment costs, including meals, alcohol, parties, receptions, mixers, or other social activities, or tickets to shows or sporting events;
  • Souvenirs, models, imprinted clothing, buttons, gifts, prizes, promotional items, mementoes, scholarships, contributions, donations, or similar gratuitous transfers (whether in the form of cash, property, or services);
  • Membership fees or dues in any business, technical, trade, professional, civic, community, country club, social or dining organization (whether in the name of the recipient organization or an individual);
  • Fund-raising (including, but not limited to, soliciting funding or contributions or raising investment capital from individuals, public/private organizations, or government entities);
  • Lobbying or "grassroots" advocacy activities (including the endorsement or opposition of political parties, candidates, initiatives, referenda, petitions, or the cost of protests or demonstrations) directed at any level or branch of government;
  • Employee or owner salaries or compensation;
  • Indirect costs or depreciation; bid and proposal costs; legal expenses; fines, penalties and mischarging costs;
  • Any cost not directly related to international trade development and preapproved by this program.

Montana STEP grant is funded in part by a grant from the U.S. Small Business Administration.


  • Download the application here.  You may apply for any of the STEP-eligible activities at the same time (trade show, translation, USCS services, etc.).
  • STEP grant priorities are:
    • Companies new to the STEP grant
    • Companies with more than 2 employees
    • For each company, 1 STEP grant award for each of the 6 activities per year.  Should there be any remaining monies once these priorities are met, funding a company’s applications for additional shows or other activities will be considered.
  • If you need help with any aspect of the application, contact ExportMontana.



  • Submit the application by email, fax, or mail (addresses in the application). 
  • The State email server rejects emails with attachments larger 5 MB, so you may need to break up the attachments into more than 1 email or consider faxing or mailing. 
  • We will confirm receipt of the application within 7 days and notify you of approval within 14 days.


  • ExportMontana will evaluate applications.
  • ExportMontana makes the final decision, at its sole discretion, whether to fund an application, request additional information, and request SBA review of the application.
  • Upon award, ExportMontana will send the company an agreement email which will outline processes and procedures.

Montana STEP grant is funded in part by a grant from the U.S. Small Business Administration.



To receive reimbursement for the USCS service, submit to ExportMontana the following:

  • Reimbursement Request – due 45 days after the activity is completed
  • W9 form – due with reimbursement request
  • Copies of receipts of expenses

Yearly Progress Reports

ExportMontana will contact you annually to receive updates on results from the activity.

ExportMontana may request additional report updates if needed to monitor the activity and satisfy SBA reporting requirements.

Montana STEP grant is funded in part by a grant from the U.S. Small Business Administration.

301 S. PARK AVE. | P.O. BOX 200533 | HELENA, MT 59620-0533 |  T: 406.841.2870 |  F: 406.841.2871 | TDD: 406.841.2702

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