Hawaii State Trade Expansion Program (HiSTEP)

The world is open for business…your business! Today it’s easier than ever for companies, regardless of size, to sell goods and services across the globe. Hawaii is an internationally recognized brand that helps make its products and services attractive to buyers throughout the world.

Hawaii’s State Trade Expansion Program, known as HiSTEP, is a multifaceted program designed to assist Hawaii small businesses with their export development. The program is administered by DBEDT and partner organizations in Hawaii and funded in part through a Cooperative Agreement with the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA).

Watch the following videos to see why everyone is talking about HiSTEP:

Success metrics for HiSTEP include, but are not limited to 1) expanded exports and revenue from exports of Hawaii produced goods and services; 2) an increased overall number and an increased percentage of Hawaii-based companies that are active in global markets; and 3) penetration of new markets for Hawaii produced goods and services.

The Hawaii State Trade Expansion Program (HiSTEP) has three integrated components:

  1. HiSTEP – Export Readiness Program (HiSTEP-ERP)
  2. HiSTEP – Company Assistance (HiSTEP-CA)
  3. HiSTEP – Hawaii Pavilions (HiSTEP-HP)

1. HiSTEP – Export Readiness Program (HiSTEP-ERP)

Training programs to prepare Hawaii companies to begin or expand their export market development.

The Export Readiness Training is a foundation program that is open to all types of businesses considering exporting. It will cover general background as well as country and issue specific topics. At the conclusion of the program, companies will have a go-to-market strategy and export plan. Training schedules will be available here in early 2017.

2. HiSTEP – Company Assistance (HiSTEP-CA)

Assists individual Hawaii companies with export market development costs.

Application proposals may request a minimum of $5,000 and a maximum of $15,000. HiSTEP-CA applicants must provide a minimum of 25 percent cash matching funds. In-kind and personnel are not allowed as matching funds.

Award funds will be limited to the following uses:

  • Trade Show/Trade Mission costs (eligible costs include space rental and other exhibit-related expenses; airfare; accommodations for period of show/mission only; shipping of products for show)
  • Travel for multiple buyer meetings (minimum six meetings)
  • Gold Key Service (a program offered by U.S. Department of Commerce’s U.S. Commercial Service that matches pre-qualified foreign buyers with American companies in markets around the world), or other federal export development programs
  • Localization services for collateral materials and website ($3,000 maximum)
  • Fees for shipping sample products ($2,000 maximum)
  • Cost of compliance testing an existing product for entry into an export market ($2,000 maximum)

The program RFP will be posted on the State Procurement Office website as early as November 2016. A link to this page will be provided.

3. HiSTEP – Hawaii Pavilions (HiSTEP-HP)

DBEDT and partners such as the Hawaii Department of Agricultural organize groups of Hawaii companies to participate in major trade shows in a Hawaii pavilion. To date, Hawaii Pavilions are planned for the following Trade Shows for 2017:

  • Surf Expo, January 26-28, 2017, Orlando, FL
  • FOODEX Japan, March 7-10, 2017, Tokyo, Japan
  • Natural Products Expo West, March 9-12, 2017, Anaheim, CA
  • International Food and Ingredients Show, May 2017, Tokyo, Japan
  • Outdoor Retailer Summer Market, August 2017, Salt Lake City, UT
  • Tokyo International Gift Show, September 6-8, 2017, Tokyo, Japan

For more information on the above trade shows, please contact Jamie Lum at Jamie.K.Lum@hawaii.gov.

Eligibility for HiSTEP

Companies desiring to participate in any of the HiSTEP activities must meet at least the following requirements:

  • Meet the federal requirements of an ‘eligible small business concern’ (meet size standards, one year in business, profitable, understand costs associated w/exporting, have export plan)
  • Certify that the company is not barred from receiving federal funds
  • Be registered in good standing with the State Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs’ Business Registration Division at vendors.ehawaii.gov
  • Have a current general excise tax license with the State Department of Taxation

SBA started STEP in FY 2011 as a three-year pilot program with a goal to increase the number of small businesses that want to export as well as the value of exports for those small businesses that currently export. SBA awards matching-funds STEP grants to states on a competitive basis.