First Time Exporters

Are you interested in making your first export sales and developing new international markets? Our network of experts is here to help you get started.

Our Kentucky partners will work one-on-one with you to:

  • Evaluate export readiness
  • Develop and refine an exports business plan
  • Identify best export markets
  • Navigate export-related topics such as banking, tax, legal questions

Don’t delay, start today by requesting a one-on-one counseling session

Get Started

Current Exporters

Are you looking to grow your current exports with new customers, a better known brand and more international markets? Our network of experts is here to help you take the next steps.

  • Promote your product or service to prospective buyers at trade events worldwide
  • Overcome obstacles in target markets
  • Analyze research on potential markets
  • Analyze the competition
  • Meet face-to-face with pre-screened potential customers

Start on the path to expanding your overseas presence today by requesting a one-on-one counseling session

Get Started

STEP Grant

Accelerate your entry into new markets! The State Trade Expansion Program (STEP) is partially funded through the U.S. Small Business Administration and administered by the Kentucky Cabinet for Economic Development.

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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.
  • Readiness Assessment

    Are you ready to export? Check out this assessment tool to help you determine your readiness.

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  • Seminars

    We come to your community to discuss export opportunities.

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  • Trade Education

    Our partners offer many educational opportunities to help you along the way.

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  • Matchmaking Sessions

    We have experience matching your company with an international partner.

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  • Trade Missions

    KEI periodically conducts trade missions to international locations for interested businesses of all sizes.

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  • Export Grant

    More than 200 Kentucky companies wishing to export have received financial assistance. Your business can too.

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  • Online Resources

    We have collected a list of online resources that can assist in your export efforts.

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Success Stories

  • "Here at Against the Grain, we have found the work of the Kentucky Export Initiative to be extremely helpful in sharpening our focus on the international branch of our business. While we have been sending beer overseas nearly since our inception, the KEI has connected us with knowledge and resources necessary to grow this exciting segment of our sales."
    Adam Watson | Co-owner, Against the Grain
  • "The state’s really helped by taking the risk out of exporting. They’ve been really good helping us grow the business and yet they haven’t gotten in the way."
    Scott Carothers | Kinetic the Technology Agency
  • "What has helped us move forward has been the connections we have made. Not who we knew years ago, but the people we have met through some of these wonderful programs that we’ve been involved in."
    Stacey Beeler | Part Owner, SnapDolls
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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.



The Kentucky Export Initiative is possible because of the efforts of its partners. Their support is vital to Kentucky’s exporting success.

  • SBA
  • US Commercial Service
  • Commerce Lexington
  • Greater Louisville Inc.
  • Bowling Green Area Chamber of Commerce
  • BEAM
  • Kentucky Cabinet for Economic Development
  • Kentucky Chamber
  • Kentucky Association of Manufacturers
  • Northern Kentucky Chamber
  • Kentucky Small Business Development Center
  • Kentucky Association of Economic Development
  • World Trade Center Kentucky
  • The Kentucky Manufacturing Extension Partnership
  • Louisville Forward
  • Kentucky Ag

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