Ohio IMAGE Grants Aim To Increase State’s International Exports

October 6, 2021

The Ohio Department of Development has announced a number of grants that are available through the International Market Access Grant for Exporters (IMAGE) program. The IMAGE program was created to assist Ohio businesses with reaching a greater number of customers and clients located outside of the United States. The first round of applications will be accepted through Nov. 9, 2021.

IMAGE Grant Eligibility

In order for a business to be eligible for a grant, the business must: 1) operate a licensed, for-profit business in Ohio, for manufacturing, assembling, and/or distributing a product or providing an exportable service; 2) have been in business for no less than one (1) year at the time of application; and 3) be in good standing with all Ohio agencies.

Under the IMAGE program, eligible businesses can access up to $10,000 in grants, which are based on a 50% reimbursement basis. For example, if an eligible business spends $15,000 on eligible expenses, the business would be eligible to receive a reimbursement equal to 50% of their eligible expenses, or $7,500. All reimbursement requests must be submitted by Sept. 29, 2022.

Importantly, any activities or expenses for which the applicant seeks reimbursement must be approved in advance. The earliest an activity can begin is the application approval date or Oct. 1, 2021, whichever occurs later, and all activities must be completed by the completion date listed in the grant agreement.

In submitting the application, applicants must make several representations, including: 1) a certification that the products to be promoted contain a majority of U.S. content; 2) that the applicant has identified qualifying and achievable export activities or initiatives and has a strategic plan for exporting in place; 3) that the applicant meets the requirements of the Table of Small Business Size Standards set forth by the Small Business Administration (SBA); and 4) that the applicant will not knowingly enter into any transactions with a person on the Excluded Parties List System.

What can IMAGE program grants be used for?

Eligible grant activities include, but are not limited to, the following: 1) website development, including search engine optimization, globalization, localization, and translation; 2) E-Commerce, including listing fees, platform fees, and costs associated with establishing websites for international payments; 3) international marketing; 4) EXIM bank credit insurance premiums; 5) compliance testing; and 6) trade shows and trade missions. Businesses are encouraged to review information on the IMAGE program, as there are limits of reimbursement that are applicable to certain activities.

Finally, the IMAGE program excludes certain costs and activities, such as printing, food/beverage, marketing materials, VISA fees and communication costs, such as cell phone bills. If a business has any questions or concerns about whether an expense or activity is eligible for reimbursement, the business may contact the program administrator at image@development.ohio.gov. For more information on the IMAGE program, visit the Ohio Department of Development website or contact one of our Economic Development attorneys today.