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      STEP program helping businesses excel

      A reimbursement program through the Lake Superior Community Partnership is giving businesses the opportunity to expand their international exporting.

      Exporting is often times the biggest source of income for many businesses, and one U.P. company knows that all too well. Argonics, a company that makes polyurethane products, relies on exporting. Last year, they applied for Michigan's State Trade and Export Promotion, also known as "STEP."

      "I think the STEP Program has really sparked our drive to expand beyond the areas that we're shipping to overseas right now. It's actually allowed us to double our money that we spend looking for new customers," said Argonics Sales Manager Robert Welker.

      It's a program that aims to create jobs and directly reimburse companies' traveling and exporting expenses by 50 percent up to $25,000.

      "For smaller companies, sometimes the added expense that's all upfront cost, to go and try to explore in an international market is just too much for them to take on by themselves. So, a program like the STEP program can really help them and allow them to explore those opportunities," said Lois Ellis from the Lake Superior Community Partnership.

      Argonics sends their products to Chile, Australia, the Netherlands, and they're now starting to ship to Italy. Within the past few years, Argonics' international business has reached 30 percent. And with the help of the STEP program, they hope to further that number even more.

      "This is just fabulous. I mean, we've actually just taken an extra trip. The owner of the company went to Chile to meet with our customer, which he probably normally wouldn't have, but we try to take advantage of this program as much as possible. It's excellent," Welker added.

      To find out how to apply for the program, click here.