HiSTEP Program Launched to Assist Businesses

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The state Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism (DBEDT) launched the 2019 Hawai‘i State Trade Expansion Program (HiSTEP), a comprehensive program designed to assist Hawai‘i small businesses to increase their exports.

The program is administered by DBEDT and partner organizations in Hawai‘i, and is funded, in part, through a grant with the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA).

A kick-off program information session was held in Honolulu on Thursday, Oct. 25, 2018, and a series of kick-off seminars will be held on the neighbor islands next week explaining the various services being offered and how companies can register.


The Hawai‘i State Trade Expansion Program (HiSTEP) has three, integrated components:

  1. HiSTEP – Export Readiness Program (HiSTEP-ERP): A series of training programs and one-on-one consulting that prepare Hawai‘i companies to begin or expand their export market development. It will cover subjects ranging from scaling up operations to logistics, as well as country-specific topics. HiSTEP-ERP also includes one-on-one business and export advising provided by our partner organizations.
  2. HiSTEP – Hawai‘i Pavilions (HiSTEP-HP): DBEDT organizes groups of Hawai‘i companies to participate in major trade shows, subsidizing booth space in a Hawai‘i Pavilion to introduce potential buyers and distributors.
  3. HiSTEP – Company Assistance (HiSTEP-CA): Direct financial assistance for export market development costs. Application proposals may request a minimum of $3,000 and a maximum of $7,500. The program RFP is posted on the State Procurement Office website.

After registering for the program, participants receive an initial consultation from HiSTEP partner, the Small Business Development Center (SBDC,) to assess their business and export plans. As needed, other HiSTEP partners will provide additional business and export mentoring.

DBEDT HiSTEP Partners are:

  • U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) Hawai‘i District Office
  • Small Business Development Center (SBDC)
  • Hawai‘i Pacific Export Council (HPEC)
  • Patsy Mink Center for Business and Leadership (MCBL)
  • Foreign-Trade Zone (FTZ) No. 9
  • U.S. Department of Commerce Export Assistance Center
  • Hawai‘i Department of Agriculture (HDOA)

Jane A. Sawyer, District Director, U.S. Small Business Administration’s (SBA) Hawai‘i District Office, commented  “We are very pleased to work again with DBEDT and the many Hawai‘i companies they support through HiSTEP. DBEDT has demonstrated consistent growth in the number of companies assisted, as well as in increasing export sales.”

DBEDT Director Luis P. Salaveria stated, “We are very grateful for the continued support from the Small Business Administration (SBA). Through HiSTEP and our partner organizations, we have helped Hawai‘i exporters to further grow their sales in overseas markets to nearly $20 million.”

In 2017, DBEDT provided:

  • Export training, delivered to 147 companies;
  • Business/export consultation and mentoring services, provided to 72 companies;
  • Direct financial assistance, awarded to 28 companies;
  • Hawai‘i pavilions, organized and subsidized for 134 companies.

For more information and program links, go online.

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