Forty State Trade and Export Promotion grants, worth $17.4 million, will be going to business owners looking to export abroad, according to Maria Contreras-Sweet, administrator of the said Small Business Administration.

"These federal dollars will fund participation in foreign trade missions and trade shows. It will also fund an international marketing campaign, export trade show exhibits and training workshops for small businesses," Contreras-Sweet said on a conference call Aug. 24.

"With 95 percent of the world's consumers living outside of our borders, this gives small businesses the tools that they need."

The STEP program was part of the Small Business Jobs Act of 2010 in an effort to boost small businesses by opening and encouraging export trade to other markets.

Originally funded for $30 million, the program will award $17.4 million to 40 states and territories with "eligible small business concerns."

Contreras-Sweet highlighted California's $747,000 award, which will fund its agriculture trade push in Asia, clean energy exports to Mexico and its small business promotion programs.

"The truth is that these meetings are often cost-prohibitive to small businesses who wish to export," she said. "So we are pleased to say that we are able to step in and help small businesses reach additional markets and additional export sales opportunities."

Under the program, federal money covers 75 percent of funding, with the remaining 25 percent coming from the state. The top three states in value of exports receive 65 percent in federal funds.

Contreras-Sweet also touted congressional approval for fast-tracking the Trans-Pacific Partnership had helped create the "potential for this to be an historic year for trade in America."

"Trying to stop the global economy at our shores is not an option," she said. "If we don't get in the game, we know other countries will eat our lunch."

Hawaii and Michigan topped states receiving the STEP awards, receiving $750,000 apiece. They were followed by California's $747,781, Washington's $747,300, North Carolina's $746,800 and Wisconsin's $712,000. Thirty-six more states received from $190,000 to $700,000 in funding to be distributed to small business owners.

"Two in every three of jobs being created today is created by a small business," Contreras-Sweet said. "We've experienced 64 months, now on our way to 65 months, of continuous job growth, a first in American history. This is in large measure to the job growth of small businesses."

The STEP grants are expected to be awarded by Sept. 30 and will fund through September 2016.