The Maine International Trade Center received a $145,000 grant to support export growth among small businesses.

The grant was awarded by the U.S. Small Business Administration’s competitive State Trade Expansion Program.

“With more than two-thirds of the world’s purchasing power outside the U.S., it’s critical for businesses to reach out to customers beyond our borders,” Marilyn Geroux, SBA district director for Maine, said in announcing the award Thursday.

Wade Merritt, vice president and STEP project director at MITC, said the renewed award has been able to support 97 company projects in overseas markets over the past four years. The support resulted in nearly $7 million in new exports, representing a 26-to-1 return on SBA’s investment of just over $250,000, according to Merritt.

The STEP awards are granted to programs that help small businesses expand their export-related activities, which include participation in foreign trade missions, foreign market sales trips, subscription services for access to international markets, as well as the design of international marketing campaigns, export trade show exhibits, export training workshops and more. Eligible Maine businesses may receive up to $8,000 in reimbursements for costs associated with these activities.

Tthe SBA also makes guaranteed loans of up to $5 million available to provide working capital for small business to complete export orders and finance expansions to accommodate increased export orders.

More information about the programs can be found at mitc.com or sba.gov.