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May 31, 2012 | Tom Ballard

Export assistance funding available from ECD

Tennessee small businesses that are exploring international markets have a new opportunity to pursue the possibility at one-half the cost for eligible activities, thanks to a grant from the U.S. Small Business Administration to the Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development (ECD).

The new initiative is called the TNTrade Market Access Program (MAP), according to ECD Chief of Staff Will Alexander.

“MAP is for companies thinking about exporting or going into new markets that have fewer than 500 employees,” Alexander said. “It is a program where companies can receive a 50 percent reimbursement for the eligible costs they incur up to $5,000.”

He said the eligible activities include overseas trade mission or trade show participation, domestic trade show participation that has a significant international focus, a foreign market sales trip, subscription to services through the U.S. Commercial Service, independent consultant assistance, export training workshops, product certification, international marketing media design, website internationalization, and marketing collateral translation.

Alexander and Patrick Baird, ECD’s TNTrade Associate, stressed that MAP is a significant opportunity for companies to test the export market in a much more affordable way.

Applications are available on the TNTrade website at  and must be submitted to ECD at least 20 business days prior to the activity. No costs are reimbursable until the application has been approved. Representatives from ECD, the Tennessee Small Business Development Centers, and the U.S. Commercial Service will review the applications.

ECD officials have said that applications will be scored based on the following criteria: economic impact (50 percent), project description (30 percent), company description (10 percent), and project budget (10 percent). All applications that receive a score of 70 or higher (out of 100 total possible points) will be approved for MAP subject to funding availability and final approval by ECD Commissioner Bill Hagerty.

Companies with further questions may contact Baird at (615) 532-1938 or

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