WARWICK, RI -- In an effort to help connect Rhode Island small businesses to federal resources and expand opportunities for local businesses to grow and enter global markets, U.S. Senator Jack Reed today joined U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) officials for an international trade & export panel with local businesses and a small business walking tour.  Gabriel Esparza, SBA Associate Administrator for the Office of International Trade, was on hand to outline ways the SBA can partner with local businesses to help boost opportunities for overseas trade and communicate with stakeholders about business concerns such as supply chain issues or workforce development.


“This is a challenging time for many businesses worldwide due to shipping and supply chain issues.  I am committed to ensuring local small businesses have the tools they need to be competitive and that the federal government is attentive and responsive to their needs.  I appreciate Associate Administrator Esparza traveling to Rhode Island to speak directly with local businesses, answer their questions, and help connect them to opportunities that the SBA can provide to grow their businesses,” said Senator Reed.


The SBA’s Export Assistance Center can assist Rhode Islanders with one-on-one business advice for best practices selling outside of the country.


After offering remarks and listening to the small business export panel, Senator Reed led SBA officials on a walking tour of local small businesses, including Taco Comfort Solutions in Cranston and Walco Electric Company in Providence.


“What happens halfway around the world can affect local businesses and alter their customer base, supply chains, or how they export products.  Entrepreneurs know it’s important to always do your homework and due diligence, and the SBA is a free, expert tutor that can provide detailed information to help small businesses succeed,” said Senator Reed.


Reed noted that SBA backs three export loan options: International Trade, Export Working Capital, and Export Express. With maximum loan amounts up to $5 million, this financing can help businesses quickly and efficiently access financing to reduce risk and improve cash flow. The SBA guaranty of up to 90 percent makes the loan more attractive to lenders.


A senior member of the Appropriations Committee, Senator Reed led efforts to include $20 million to support export business development through the State Trade Expansion Program (STEP) in the fiscal year 2022 Consolidated Appropriations law.  Rhode Island has received STEP grants to help connect local entrepreneurs to markets in Canada, Mexico, and overseas.