(Washington, DC) – The U.S. Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship today reported out four bills, which legislate critical improvements to the State Trade Expansion Program (STEP) and improve access to federal contracting opportunities for small businesses.

“Through today’s legislation, we’re helping to make STEP more flexible and easier to administer in order to increase the number of small businesses that access and compete in international markets,” said Chair Shaheen. “When I created STEP in 2010, I sought to help small businesses offset the cost of training, market research, website upgrades and trade missions to begin or expand sales internationally. By modernizing STEP, it will now be simpler for small businesses to access these resources. I look forward to continuing to work together as we consider additional, bipartisan legislation that strengthens the economy and our local communities.” 

The following legislation was reported out of committee:  

S. ____ - The STEP Modernization Act of 2024 updates STEP by streamlining the application, reporting and compliance requirements, improving award consistency and transparency and establishing a formula that will replace the current competitive process for determining award amounts once appropriations reach a set level. Lead sponsors are Chair Shaheen and Ranking Member Ernst.  

S. 3772 - The Subcontracting Simplification Act amends the Small Business Act to require prime contractors to communicate subcontract opportunities to small businesses in a clear, concise and accessible manner. Lead sponsors are Senators Risch and Hickenlooper. Cosponsors include Senators Budd, Crapo, Kennedy, Rubio and Young. 

S. 3971 - The Small Business Contracting Transparency Act amends the Small Business Act to require SBA to provide an annual report to the Senate and House Small Business Committees on certification activities and contract awards within the Women-Owned Small Business (WOSB), Historically Underutilized Business Zone (HUBZone) and Service-Disabled Veteran-Owned Small Business (SDVOSB) programs. Lead sponsors are Senators Coons and Kennedy.  

H.R. 7987 - The Plain Language in Contracting Act makes federal contracting opportunities more accessible to small businesses by requiring notices to be written in clear and accessible language.

Chair Shaheen helped create STEP as a pilot program in 2010. The program was fully authorized by Shaheen’s?small business trade amendment, which was signed into law in 2016. Since its creation, the STEP program has awarded $235.5 million in grants and directly supported over 13,000 small businesses' international expansion and export growth. As states improve their exporting skills, the return on investment keeps improving. In 2022, every $1 in STEP funding yielded $43 in U.S. export sales.