There's help for U.S. small- and medium-sized manufacturers (SMMs) that have been negatively affected by outsourcing of work to foreign countries.
The Trade Adjustment Assistance for Firms (TAA) was launched in 1974 to help manufacturers develop and implement turnaround strategies to counter that loss of business due to offshoring.The Trade Act Program was recently (May '09) updated to increase the amount of aid available to SMMs in the form of matching funds toward implementing redirecting businesses toward more competitive markets and products. For updates to the program, visit the U.S. Department of Labor Web site.
There are 11 regional assistance centers located throughout the U.S. The centers work in cooperation with the Manufacturing Extension Partnership network embedded in universities in all 50 states.
The TAA program will help to qualify your company for matching funds if you can prove a 5% decline in sales and employment along with the impact of imports on your main product. Think of the TAA as your advocate through this process.
The TAA qualification is broken into 3 phases:
Phase One - Free certification process to prepare a TAA petition for funds that is submitted to the Economic Development Administration (EDA) for review.
Phase Two - Development of an Adjustment Plan (costs shared for this phase: 75% government; 25% your company) that identifies mission-critical projects. This phase includes a site visit, and the TAA will write and submit the plan to the EDA on your behalf.
Phase Three - TAA will issue and help manage requests for proposal to private sector consultants, and aid in implementation (costs shared for this phase: 50% government; 50% your company).
There are several potential projects to which this funding can be applied. Here are a few examples: Strategic Planning; New Product Development & Marketing; Web Site Design/Marketing; Lean Manufacturing/Six Sigma/Continuous Improvement Programs/Process Engineering; System Innovation/Re-engineering; Certification (ISO upgrades); Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) Installation/Integration; and Export Feasibility Assistance.
We speak to hundreds of shops and plants in the U.S. that say they've not heard of this program. If you haven't - or even if you have - you may want to pay them (a/another) visit to see what's what. The vetting, application and implementation of a TAA petition & project can take 90 -120 days before total funding is approved.
But if you're an SMM looking to improve your competitve posture, move into new markets or industries or redirect your business, the TAA may just be the catalyst your business needs to move forward.