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November 4, 2013

Kusters promotes export bill at Salem firm

Innovative FOTO booths found in 30 nations

SALEM — For two decades, a local company has made its mark around the world by capturing goofy, memorable images of people on film.

Couples, teenagers and families in 30 countries have hammed it up and posed for photographs in Innovative FOTO’s specially designed booths.

So when Congresswoman Ann Kuster, D-N.H., visited the small company on Industrial Way yesterday, she couldn’t resist posing as well.

As company officials urged her on, Kuster sat it in a booth and — using her hands — pretended she had moose antlers, drawing laughter as a camera snapped her photo.

“Oh, I’m going to regret that one,” she laughed.

Kuster stopped off at the 55-employee, research, design and manufacturing facility to tout legislation she has sponsored that would extend and expand the State Trade and Export Promotion program, known as STEP.

STEP helped dozens of New Hampshire companies, such as Innovative FOTO, expand their exports before funding for the program ran out Sept. 30, Kuster said. New Hampshire exports totaled more than $3.4 billion last year.

Kuster’s bill, the Small Business Growth Through Exports Act, would extend the program for three more years and double the federal funding available each year from $30 million to $60 million.

Companies can receive up to $5,000 in grant money through the program, which benefited 35 Granite State firms last year. Innovative FOTO was awarded $5,000 in 2012 and $1,100 this year.

Since the program began in 2010, approximately 60 New Hampshire companies have received $600,000 in matching grants.

STEP helps businesses attend international trade shows, fund export training programs, and assists with the development of international marketing materials, among other efforts to boost exports.

Kuster, a member of the House Small Business Committee, said the funding is needed if companies are going to continue to grow.

“Companies like Innovative FOTO have used STEP grants to expand their reach and send more of their products around the world,” she said.

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