About KEI

The Kentucky Export Initiative (KEI) is a partnership of government entities, business organizations and trade experts with a common goal: to help small and mid-sized companies export more. Why? Because exporting helps companies to grow, innovate, and add new jobs. The vast majority of Kentucky’s exporters are small and mid-sized business. Each of them helps to ensure a strong future for our great state by bringing their good and services—their hard work—to the global marketplace. You help Kentucky and the KEI wants to help you!

The Kentucky Export Initiative (KEI) brings together agencies and organizations that facilitate international trade opportunities for Kentucky exporters. Together, the KEI partners have made education and export awareness a priority.

These partner organizations are providing access to training, identifying potential new markets, and connecting companies from across the state with the people, events, and opportunities that can help them grow. By connecting international distributors, buyers and clients with Kentucky companies, the Kentucky Export Initiative can help create long-lasting, prosperous trade ties between Kentucky and the global marketplace.

  • Kentucky Cabinet for Economic Development

    Kentucky Cabinet for Economic Development is the state’s primary agency that is responsible for business development efforts in Kentucky. The Cabinet also manages the state’s exporting efforts including the State Trade Expansion Program (STEP) grant.

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  • U.S. Small Business Administration

    U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) (Kentucky District Office) was created to assist and protect the interests of small businesses, to preserve free competitive enterprise and to strengthen the overall economy of the country. Its bottom line mission is to help Americans start, build and grow businesses. The Kentucky District office is responsible for the delivery of SBA’s programs and services throughout Kentucky.

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  • United States Commercial Service

    U.S. Commercial Service is the Commerce Department’s lead business unit for trade promotion and supports U.S. businesses through its global network of offices. The U.S. Commercial Service offers businesses world-class market research, trade events that promote U.S. products or services to qualified buyers, introductions to qualified buyers and distributors, and one-on-one counseling through every step of the export process.

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  • World Trade Center Kentucky

    World Trade Center Kentucky organizes and executes trade missions, provides comprehensive trade education on numerous topics, and executes customized research. Kentucky is served by World Trade Center offices in Lexington and Louisville.

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  • Advantage Kentucky Alliance

    Advantage Kentucky Alliance (AKA) is the official representative of the Manufacturing Extension Partnership, MEP National Network™ in Kentucky supported by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), focused on helping small and medium-sized manufacturers generate business results and thrive in today’s technology-driven economy.

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  • Kentucky Association for Economic Development

    Kentucky Association for Economic Development (KAED) is dedicated to promoting and facilitating economic development in the Commonwealth. KAED educates, advocates and connects association members. Membership covers all parts and aspects of the industry in Kentucky, from rural to urban areas, providing a broad array of resources and expertise in the field of economic development.

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  • Kentucky Association of Manufacturers

    Kentucky Association of Manufacturers (KAM) advocates for and promotes Kentucky manufacturers through advocacy and communications efforts.

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  • Kentucky Department of Agriculture

    The Kentucky Department of Agriculture works to assist Kentucky companies and producers export their agricultural commodities and value-added products around the world. Along with other External Organizations, we are available to point to Technical Expertise & Tools, link up Financial Assistance, foster Networking Opportunities, and assist with Market Research

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  • Kentucky Small Business Development Center

    The Kentucky Small Business Development Center has been assisting the Commonwealth’s small business community for 40 years. With 17 centers statewide and an experienced and knowledgeable staff, the Kentucky SBDC provides unparalleled business coaching and training services to help existing business owners and potential entrepreneurs start, grow, and succeed.

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  • Kentucky Chamber of Commerce

    The premier business association in the state, representing. 3,800 member businesses – from family-owned shops to Fortune 500 companies – that employ over half of the Commonwealth’s workforce. The state chamber partners with more than 80 local chambers and 25,000 business professionals to educate and advocate on behalf of all Kentucky businesses.

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STEP Grant

Accelerate your entry to new markets! The State Trade Expansion Program (STEP) is a federally funded grant administered by Kentucky’s Cabinet for Economic Development. Grant awards ($10,000) can be used for a variety of expenses related to business travel, education, compliance testing, market research, finding potential customers, and more.

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Kentucky has been awarded more than $1.4 million by the U.S. Small Business Administration’s Office of International Trade to support exporting activities by Kentucky’s small businesses.

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