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Entrepreneurship and Business Assistance Centers » Export Assistance

Contact Information

Thien Bui
(614) 466-4996

Ohio International Market Access Grant for Exporters (IMAGE)


The Ohio International Market Access Grant for Exporters (IMAGE), funded by the state of Ohio and the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA), is designed to increase exports and create jobs. The IMAGE grant offers financial assistance for small businesses to promote their products and services in international markets. The grant will provide a 50 percent reimbursement up to $10,000 per fiscal year for qualifying activities.

All eligible activities must be completed by September 29, 2016.

Click the drop down arrows below for more information in each category.

The IMAGE program requires the application to be signed by a corporate officer, certifying that the following eligibility criteria will be met:

  • Company operates a licensed business in Ohio to manufacture, assemble and/or distribute a product or provide an exportable service.
  • Company certifies that the products to be promoted contain a majority of U.S. content. U.S. content is valued at export-works price minus the aggregate value contributed by foreign suppliers, including labor and material.
  • Company has identified qualifying and achievable export activities or initiatives requiring financial support.
  • Company asserts that it meets the requirements of the Table of Small Business Size Standardsset forth by the SBA.
  • Company has been in business for no less than the one-year period ending on the date on which assistance is provided under an IMAGE grant.
  • Company is operating profitably, based on operations in the United States from the firm's most recently completed fiscal year.
  • Company has taken the Export Questionnaire and achieved a score of at least 66, thus demonstrating an understanding of the costs associated with exporting and doing business with foreign purchasers, including the costs of freight forwarding, customs brokers and packing and shipping.
  • Company has in effect a strategic plan for exporting, as outlined under "Client Commitments" on the IMAGE application.
  • Company attests that it shall not knowingly enter into any transactions with a person in the Excluded Parties List System.
  • Eligible activities must be executed by direct employees of the company.
  • Nonprofits are not eligible.

IMAGE funds will reimburse companies a maximum of $10,000* (50 percent on expenditures up to $20,000) for participation in the following activities:

International Tradeshow Exhibition

  • Booth space rental and construction
  • Freight costs to ship booth and materials
  • Trade show registration fees
  • Travel expenses and domestic trade shows are not eligible

Approved trade missions

Individual market visit supported by the state of Ohio in-country support, U.S. Commercial Service Gold Key Service or Food Export Market Builder

International Advertising

  • Cost of production and placement of advertisements in magazines, newspapers, posters, billboards, direct mail, on TV, radio and international websites
  • Printing costs are not eligible

Website Development

  • Website translation into foreign language, search engine optimization and localization services ($3,000 reimbursement maximum in this category)

Translation Services

  • Marketing material translations and localizations
  • Label, packaging and technical manual translations
  • Printing costs are not eligible

Global Target Program

If you have questions concerning your company’s eligible reimbursements, contact Thien Bui at or (614) 466-4996.

The minimum IMAGE reimbursement amount is $1,000 (50 percent on expenditures of $2,000).

Funding for the FY16 IMAGE program has been fully allocated. You may submit an application to reserve a spot on the waitlist. If you have any questions, please contact IMAGE program administrator, Thien Bui at

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Launch IMAGE Application

  • Grant applications must be pre-approved prior to commencement of activities.
  • Grant awards are administered on a first come, first served basis and are contingent upon availability of funds.
  • Grant awards will be based on the overall quality of the export-related activity, as determined by the Ohio Development Services Agency.
  • Grantees will not be compensated for activities also receiving funding through other sources (i.e., Food Export Association).
  • Grantees must be in good standing with all state of Ohio agencies, including the Department of Taxation.
  • Upon completion of the activities, grantees will be reimbursed upon submission of the materials noted in this document.

Please click here for reimbursement requirements.

Company should submit for reimbursement within 30 days of completing its list of activities. The final deadline to submit for reimbursement is October 29, 2016.

IMAGE Frequently Asked Questions

Many exporting expenses are considered “costs of doing business” or, for other reasons, fall outside the regulations of the IMAGE program and therefore are not eligible for reimbursement. This list should not be considered complete. If you have questions concerning your company’s eligible reimbursements, contact Thien Bui at or (614) 466-4996.

General Ineligible Expenses

  • Domestic tradeshows
  • Travel and lodging for domestic and international tradeshows
  • Ground transportation
  • Interpreter fees
  • Individual foreign market visits not supported by the state of Ohio in-country support, U.S. Commercial Service Gold Key Service or Food Export Market Builder
  • Educational seminars and conferences
  • Any activities not specifically approved as part of the participant company's IMAGE application
  • Any activities and functions held in conjunction with unauthorized parties as set forth by the U.S. Bureau of Industry and Security
  • Compliance fees (e.g. CE Marking)
  • Visa fees

Business-Related Ineligible Expenses

  • Salaries, living expenses, office costs, allowances and office parking fees
  • Fees associated with training international representatives
  • Administrative expenses including communication costs (phone, fax, Internet) including those related to travel (hotel phone and cellphone charges)
  • Refundable deposits and advances
  • Rental, lease or purchase of warehouse space
  • Purchase, construction or lease of space for permanent displays
  • Meals, reception refreshments, entertainment or gifts
  • Website development beyond approved translation services
  • Business cards beyond approved translation services
  • Seasonal greeting cards
  • Subscriptions or publications
  • Package and label design/production and origin identification stickers not specifically required by importing country
  • Routine translation and interpretation services not related to eligible promotional materials
  • General company literature that does not include product promotion information
  • Shipping costs beyond the freight costs to ship booth materials to a trade show
  • Membership and program fees
  • Management consultant fees
  • Product-related ineligible expenses
  • Product research and development
  • Product samples

Marketing-Related Ineligible Expenses

  • Printing costs
  • Slotting and shelf-space fees, licensing fees, product registration and similar sales expenses
  • Coupons, redemptions, price discounts and any other activity to reduce the selling prices of a product
  • Advertisements or any other marketing and promotions items that feature a coupon that reduces the cost of the product
  • Promotions or products that are deemed offensive
  • Promotions and advertisements that disparage any other company or product either directly or indirectly

The projected expenses list on the application is strictly an estimate. Please list all expenses that you are sure will be incurred during the grant period as well as any expense that may be incurred. Since the grant operates on a reimbursement basis, you will not be penalized for not using all of the grant money that was requested or if you did not perform some of the expenses listed on the application.

There is no penalty. However, please notify us immediately of any changes to your projected expenses.

There is no penalty. The grant works on a reimbursement basis. This means that the money allocated to the company but not expended by the company will simply be reallocated. However, the company should notify immediately should they decide not to use all of their requested money.

Please contact as soon as possible.

While companies should attempt to finalize activities prior to receiving a signed grant agreement, changes to activities may still be made after receiving the grant agreement in certain circumstances. Please contact as soon as possible to make changes. Depending on the changes, it may be necessary to create an amendment to the previously executed grant agreement.

If you did not ask for the maximum grant allocation ($10,000) and would like to increase your grant amount, please notify the IMAGE grant administrator at as soon as possible. IMAGE funding is first come, first served.

The list of projected expenses asked on the IMAGE application is strictly an estimate and we understand if your actual expenses vary from the amount listed on your application. To help you understand, here are a few scenarios:

Scenario 1

  • Company ABC applied to IMAGE and listed four activities that the grant would fund. Each activity had an estimate cost of $5,000. Company ABC completed two activities listed on its application but spent $10,000 in eligible expenses per activity instead of $5,000 as originally projected. Company ABC can submit for 50 percent reimbursement (maximum $10,000 as listed on their grant agreement) and complete their grant even if they did not perform the four activities as listed in their application.

Scenario 2

  • Company ABC applied to IMAGE and listed four activities on its estimated expenses. Each activity had an estimate cost of $5,000. Upon completing all four activities, company ABC realized that it did not spend $20,000 in eligible expenses to receive the $10,000 reimbursement. Company ABC has two options.

Option 1

  • If the September 29, 2016 deadline has not passed, company ABC can contact the IMAGE program administrator to add additional eligible expenses to its grant agreement if it would like to receive the full $10,000 in reimbursement.

    If the September 29, 2016 deadline has passed, company can only submit for a 50 percent reimbursement of the actual expenses that it incurred.

Option 2

  • Company submits for 50 percent reimbursement on actual expenses incurred and voluntarily forfeits the remaining grant allocation.

Please contact for more information.

Company can expect to receive their reimbursement within 30 days of submission.

SBA LogoThe Small Business Development Center (SBDC) program of Ohio is funded in part through a cooperative agreement with the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA). The SBDC program is also funded in part by the Ohio Development Services Agency. All opinions, conclusions or recommendations expressed are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the SBA. Reasonable accommodations for persons with disabilities will be made if requested at least two weeks in advance. Contact: SBDC (614) 466-2711.