McAuliffe announces launch of international trade show assistance program

terry mcauliffeGovernor Terry McAuliffe announced Tuesday the launch of the Virginia Trade Show Assistance Program, administered by the Virginia Economic Development Partnership’s (VEDP) International Trade Division.  This new program, funded by the General Assembly in its biennial budget, provides a way for eligible Virginia companies to connect with new customers and grow international sales by exhibiting their products and services at international trade shows.

“International trade shows are a proven driver for getting Virginia products and services into markets all over the world,” said Governor McAuliffe.  “The Virginia Trade Show Assistance Program will be a game-changer for businesses in the Commonwealth, further helping companies network with potential partners and clients across the globe. We will continue to ensure Virginia’s private-sector companies have the resources to grow and diversify their customer base, bringing revenue back to the Commonwealth and helping us build a new Virginia economy.”

In this program, companies can apply for assistance to purchase their own booth at a trade show that is relevant to their unique product, service or industry.  To be eligible, trade shows must occur overseas, or if they are domestic, they must have a demonstrated international component. Trade show expenses which may be submitted for reimbursement include stand registration fees, compulsory fees for exhibitors, etc.

“Virginia companies need to go to market to make a sale, but exhibiting at a trade show can be a costly endeavor for a small to medium sized business,” said Secretary of Commerce and Trade Maurice Jones.  “This program provides the needed funds for companies to get their products and services in front of potential international buyers.”

Funded in part through a Cooperative Agreement with the U.S. Small Business Administration’s State Export Promotion (STEP) Grant, the Commonwealth was able to help more than 40 Virginia companies participate in international trade shows in fiscal year 2016. Through the success of the program, VEDP recognized the tremendous value that Virginia exporters place on trade shows and saw a need for a new program to help them get there.

Alexandria-based ThinkFun, a recent graduate of VEDP’s Virginia Leaders in Export Trade (VALET) Program, was able to exhibit at the Nuremburg Toy Fair in February 2016 by using STEP funds.

“The Nuremburg Toy Fair is the world’s largest toy fair, so the ability to exhibit at the show through the STEP grant was critical to growing our business,” said Chris Gough, Director of International Business at ThinkFun. “We met with over 20 of our distributors and featured ten new games at this year’s show, resulting in many orders.  Our international business is up 20% over last year, so we have experienced firsthand the incredible value in attending trade shows to connect with new customers.”

The Commonwealth of Virginia exported more than $36 billion in manufactured goods and services in 2014. Exports of Virginia’s products and services to the world are vital to the growth of the Commonwealth, with an economic impact to Virginia of more than $18.7 billion in labor income, $2 billion in tax revenue and the creation of nearly 321,000 jobs.

For more information on the Trade Show Assistance Program, visit

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