Opening Statements

Meuser: “The SBA Office of International Trade and the STEP Program as Key Tools for Recovery and Expansion”

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, The House Small Business Subcommittee on Economic Growth, Tax, and Capital Access held a hybrid hearing on “The SBA Office of International Trade and the STEP Program as Key Tools for Recovery and Expansion.”

Subcommittee Ranking Member Dan Meuser’s opening statement as prepared for delivery:

Thank you, Madam Chairwoman.

Small businesses are job creators, innovators, and drivers of the United States economy. They also export high-quality products which showcase American manufacturing, agriculture, and energy across the globe.

According to the SBA, Small businesses comprise 96.6 percent of all exporters in the United States. In my home state of Pennsylvania, the U.S. Census Bureau found that over 88 percent of the state’s exporters were small firms which resulted in $12.5 billion in exported goods in 2019.

The SBA’s Office of International Trade assists small businesses in export promotion activities through management and training programs and the State Trade Expansion Program (STEP) grants. The STEP program partners with state and territories to increase the number of small businesses that export, increase the value of exports by small businesses, and increase the number of small businesses exploring significant new trade opportunities.

Many states use STEP awards to facilitate foreign trade missions and trade show exhibitions or to provide consulting, marketing, and website services.

Pennsylvania has received several STEP awards since the program’s inception and has effectively used the STEP funds for its financial assistance plan, the Global Access Program (GAP). GAP is designed to be flexible and allow companies to use STEP funds to their own best advantage.

This has resulted in numerous success stories.

Gilson Snow, a premium snowboard and ski design and manufacturing company located in Winfield, Pennsylvania, was started by a middle school science teacher and his class. The company was awarded GAP funds for digital marketing on Facebook and Instagram, which resulted in sales totaling nearly $20,000 during the campaigns and increased brand awareness in Australian and New Zealand markets.

Another example is Pepro LLC, out of Oil City, Pennsylvania. Pepro LLC is a veteran-owned small business that specializes in mobile and remote communication shelters, which ensures communications are not interrupted during emergencies or natural disasters. They used GAP funding to cover costs associated with attending the International Wireless Communications Expo (IWCE) in Las Vegas, Nevada. Their president, Kelly Lander stated: “GAP funding has been a great benefit to us. Our biggest sales effort for international business is the IWCE Trade Show. GAP funding pays for our booth space which is our largest expense. This funding was especially helpful during 2020-2021 in dealing with challenges related to COVID.”

Small businesses face many barriers to exporting including limited capacity, resources, and access to financing. Unfortunately, the pandemic created additional challenges and resulted in many cancelled trade shows, missions, and travel which hindered the ability of STEP awardees to conduct activities.

Further, economic headwinds caused by the Biden Administration and Congressional Democrats are hindering small business operations, including exporting. A recent survey from Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses found that 89 percent say “broader economic trends, such as inflation, supply chain issues, and workforce challenges, are having a negative impact on their business.”

Last week, inflation soared to a nearly 41-year record high. As prices skyrocket month after month, it is not surprising that the Job Creators Network polling found that 72 percent of small businesses do not think the Biden Administration is doing enough to combat inflation.

This is a top problem for small business owners. Small businesses in my district tell me that inflation is forcing them to raise prices and modify operations and it is hindering their ability to plan for the future.

I appreciate the Chairwoman for calling this important hearing on the STEP program today, and I look forward to working together to increase small business exports and empowering innovators with the tools they need to reach new markets. However, if we truly want to help small businesses, we must reduce red tape that slows domestic production, adamantly oppose any tax increases on small businesses, and end the never-ending spending that is driving soaring inflation.

Let me be clear: Continued Reckless spending in Washington and increasing taxes and regulations will not support small businesses in their efforts to expand and export. I yield back.