This article appeared in the July 2020 issue of MiMfg Magazine. Read the full issue and find past issues online.
International competition is a persistent challenge for small manufacturers. Despite soft markets and the trade war, U.S. manufacturing imports totaled almost $2.2 trillion in 2019, their second highest level ever. And as the economy picks up speed, foreign competition does so too.
Fortunately, help is available for companies hurt by imports. Trade Adjustment Assistance for Firms (TAAF) is a little-known federal program specifically designed to help small manufacturers recover and rebuild business lost to imports. For companies in Michigan, Ohio, and Indiana, the program is managed by the Great Lakes Trade Adjustment Assistance Center (GLTAAC).
GLTAAC partners with affected firms to identify, plan, and implement business improvement projects to strengthen their overall competitiveness. Projects are implemented using outside service providers, which ensures the best fit for GLTAAC clients. And the TAAF program provides up to $75,000 in matching funds to help pay for the projects.
To qualify for the TAAF program, a company must be losing both sales and employment due, in part, to imports. There is no cost to apply, and GLTAAC handles all of the paperwork. A quick phone call is usually all it takes to determine if a company can qualify.
How GLTAAC Helps
GLTAAC has worked with hundreds of import-injured manufacturers in Michigan to connect them with the help they need. Here’s how the process works:
- Each client works with a GLTAAC Project Manager to create a customized action plan, which identifies high-impact projects needed at the firm. This plan acts as a roadmap for recovery.
- Then TAAF provides up to $75,000 in co-funding assistance to implement the projects in the plan. Most clients complete four to six projects through the program, typically in three to five years.
Projects the TAAF Program Co-Funds
The TAAF program is extremely flexible. Here are just a few examples of other projects our clients have recently undertaken.
- Marketing and Sales Support: Lead development; sales team training; market research to support diversification; re-branding; e-marketing; product testing
- Operations: Lean and Six Sigma implementations; ISO / AS / IATF certification prep; process re-engineering; automation implementation
- Systems: Selection, implementation, training for ERP, CRM, MES, etc.; HR and Purchasing improvements
- Training: CAD; CAM; machine skills; safety; computer skills; leadership development; supervisor training
- Other: financial management; job costing; bank relationship development; succession planning
- Learn more about the TAAF program and whether your firm qualifies for assistance by visiting www.gltaac.org.
- The TAAF program is funded and administered by the Economic Development Administration of the U.S. Department of Commerce (eda.gov).
- GLTAAC is part of the Economic Growth Institute at the University of Michigan (economicgrowth.umich.edu).