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Backing U.S. Industries to Support U.S. Exports

February 4, 2013

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Chris Higginbotham is a communication specialist with the International Trade Administration’s Office of Public Affairs.

How could $300,000 help your industry increase exports?

The International Trade Administration (ITA) is accepting applications for federal funding for U.S. industries that are looking to increase the business they do overseas. Each year, ITA makes several financial assistance awards, called Market Development Cooperator Program (MDCP) awards, to industry groups to pursue projects that help U.S. firms export and create jobs.

“Any project we support has to aim to create or sustain U.S. jobs by increasing or sustaining exports,” says MDCP Director Brad Hess. “We’re specifically interested in industries with the capability to execute the projects they’re proposing.”

Nine industry groups earned awards up to $300,000 in 2012. On average from 1997 through 2012, every one dollar awarded has generated $258 in exports.

Industries receiving awards do need a solid business plan and must provide financial backing of their own to qualify for an MDCP award. For every dollar given to an industry by ITA, the industry group must provide two of its own.

The MDCP is not available to private companies; it’s specifically meant to help organizations that represent a large segment of an industry.

“The primary reason we have this program is that we can have an impact on more companies by reaching out to industry groups,” Hess said.

The application period closes on Feb. 28. ITA published a step-by-step guide to applying for an MDCP award.

Not every application earns a financial award, but any American business is welcome to seek help with competing globally throughout the year at one of ITA’s more than 100 offices in the U.S. and in more than 70 countries worldwide. ITA officials can also refer you to resources and respond to technical and informational questions during the MDCP application process.

Even if an application doesn’t earn funding, ITA debriefs all applicants and provides feedback as to why an application was or was not funded.

“It’s to an organization’s benefit to apply even if it doesn’t succeed,” Hess said. “Next year, that organization can apply again and utilize feedback to be really competitive for an award.”

The MDCP awards were created in legislation in 1988. Congress created the program as unique way to “develop, maintain and expand foreign markets for nonagricultural U.S. goods and services.” The first MDCP awards were given in 1993 totaling $2 million.

Visit the MDCP award homepage to learn more about the awards and the application process. If you have any questions about the program, please visit the frequently asked questions page. You can also contact Hess directly or join the conversation on Twitter using the hashtag #MDCPaward.

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