Export Assistance

Through the collaboration of federal, state and private agencies known as the Kentucky Export Initiative (KEI), we stand ready to be of assistance to new, expanding, and experienced international exporters wishing to sell their products of at least 51% U.S. content overseas. Our experts provide the knowledge and resources to guide Kentucky businesses in the direction for continuous success.

The KEI provides a variety of services to help businesses achieve their international export goals, many of which may be 100% reimbursable to eligible companies through funding by the Kentucky State Trade Expansion Program (STEP) grant. Working in tandem with partner agencies, companies may select from services that include export readiness assessments and customized individual trade counseling, trade education workshops, B2B matchmaking, international partner searches (IPS) and more. International and domestic trade show exhibitions qualify as activities for businesses to showcase and demonstrate their products and services.

The STEP grant is partially funded through the Small Business Administration (SBA) and administered by the Kentucky Cabinet for Economic Development.

Read more about services and resources available to exporters:


The federal government’s International Trade Administration (trade.gov) has created an online assessment that can help you determine your readiness to export products. Access that assessment form here.

Export Readiness Assessment


Since 2011, the Kentucky Cabinet for Economic Development has provided financial assistance to over 200 Kentucky companies through the State Trade Expansion Program (STEP). STEP is a grant that 100% reimburses eligible Kentucky businesses for international export development activities identified by the SBA including:

  • Support for small business participation in foreign trade missions and foreign market sales trips
  • Utilization of services provided by The U.S. Department of Commerce including Gold Key Service, business matchmaking, market research, single company promotions, and international partner searches (IPS)
  • Payment of website fees for e-commerce platforms and translation services
  • Design of international marketing media (digital or print) to promote products or services
  • Fees for international and domestic trade show exhibitions to showcase and demonstrate U.S. products or services when audience includes international buyers
  • Participation in training workshops which will directly benefit or assist the company with gaining credible knowledge of export policies, regulations, and/or best practices
  • Other export initiatives determined to be appropriate by the SBA.


The STEP grant is partially funded through the Small Business Administration (SBA) and administered by the Kentucky Cabinet for Economic Development.


The KEI partnership is experienced in business matchmaking for Kentucky companies interested in locating international partners. Matchmaking can be done on an individual basis or as a part of targeted trade missions.

Through the International Trade Association (ITA) U.S. Commercial Service, the Gold Key Service provides U.S. companies with matchmaking appointments with up to five interested partners in a foreign market. Additionally, the International Partner Search can provide a list of up to five partners/distributors that have expressed an interest in the client’s goods/services.

For more information on B2B Matchmaking, please contact the U.S. Commercial Service Kentucky or contact us at kyexports@ky.gov


How to enter into new markets, answers to compliance questions, information on international laws, testimonials by business owners, and other export development education topics are often presented via live webinars by the KEI partners and other national/international organizations. Modestly priced and convenient, export education webinars can be 100% reimbursed through the KY STEP grant.

For more information on upcoming webinars that may be able to help or to apply for the STEP grant, please contact us at kyexports@ky.gov. Access the Events page directly to register for upcoming webinars, trade shows, and trade missions


Our partner organizations bring a wide array of skills and specialties to the table that can help you, your business, and your communities succeed. Export education and certification programs are available on topics ranging from logistics to market entry strategies and can be tailored to your unique needs.

For more information about our partner organizations and their services, please see our partner profiles or please contact us.

  • U.S. Commercial Service
  • World Trade Center Kentucky
  • Kentucky Small Business Development Center (KSBDC)
  • Advantage Kentucky Alliance (AKA)

    KEI periodically hosts trade missions for companies of all sizes. Contact kyexports@ky.gov for details.

    For companies that have never exported their products or services internationally, the process can seem daunting. However, the payoff is worth it.

    Here are ten reasons why you should consider getting into the export business:

    • 95% of global consumers are outside of the U.S.
      If a U.S. business is only selling domestically, it is not reaching the majority of potential customers.
    • Free trade agreements (FTA) with 20 countries
      Free Trade Agreements make it easier and cheaper for you to export your product or service by reducing barriers to U.S. interests abroad, and creating a more stable and transparent investment environment.
    • U.S. products have a competitive advantage
      The U.S. is known for its high-quality goods and services, and Kentucky-made products are no exception. Whether it is glass, automobiles, bourbon, or transportation equipment, the world wants Kentucky-made products.
    • Develop economies of scale
      Exporting allows businesses with excess production capacity to produce more goods and spread costs across multiple markets, thus achieving economies of scale.
    • Spur innovation
      Exposure to new technologies, customer requirements, cultural environments, and more competition can all help boost creativity and innovation.
    • Mitigate risk
      Exporting helps companies diversify their revenue streams and reduce dependence on the domestic market. As a result, companies that export have an easier time riding out fluctuations in the U.S. economy.
    • Derive benefits from seasonality
      Businesses that sell seasonal products, particularly farmers and agribusinesses, can use exporting to turn idle inventory into sales and generate year-long revenue helping level out seasonal fluctuations in product demand.
    • Extend product life cycle and expand sales
      A product may become obsolete in one market, but still have relevance in another. By exporting that product overseas, companies can extend the life cycle of a product and maintain a steady revenue stream even when they reach saturation in domestic markets.
    • Increase productivity
      Exporting can expose your business to new ideas and business processes and provide opportunities to improve your knowledge and increase your competitiveness. Together, these advantages can increase the productivity of your business.
    • Enjoy faster growth
      Exporting can be profitable for businesses of all sizes. On average, because exporting companies have a broad, diverse customer base, their sales grow faster, more jobs are created, and employees earn more than in non-exporting firms.

    High global demand for Kentucky-made products and services has made exporting an approximate $26 billion industry in the Bluegrass State. Let the Kentucky Export Initiative partners help you navigate the international marketplace.

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