Market Research and U.S. Commercial Service Programs

US Commercial ServiceResearching and finding partners in international markets can be difficult for you to do on your own. Partners like Export Montana 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 Export Montana 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 Export Montana to ensure eligibility.

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

Carey Hester  |

Watch our October 2020 webinar covering market research opportunities 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.


Apply here.  Please note: our application process is now fully web based, so you will be directed to to apply.  Please contact our office if you have trouble with the process.
  • 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 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 Export Montana.
  • We will confirm receipt of the application within 7 days and notify you of approval within 14 days.


  • Export Montana will evaluate applications.
  • Export Montana 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, Export Montana will send the company an agreement email which will outline processes and procedures.


To receive reimbursement for your approved grant, please fill out the reimbursement form by logging into your account at  Be prepared with your;

  • W9 form – due with reimbursement request
  • Copies of receipts of expenses

Yearly Progress Reports

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

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