It has been a while since I talked about Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA), so I thought it would be a great time to remind everyone of what it is and what it can do for you. In this time of tariffs, many U.S. customers are looking for good domestic solutions for their electronics needs. Thus, it’s a perfect time to put your company out there and share your name and story in the marketplace. And to make it easy for folks who are looking for domestic solutions to find you, take advantage of TAA. If you’re U.S.-based, have been hurt by offshoring (and who hasn’t), and your business has been in decline in the past few years, then read on because this column is for you.
Let me tell you about TAA Centers (TAACs) for TAA Firms (TAAFs). This organization is federally funded and designed to help companies that have been adversely affected by offshore competition. To directly quote TAA literature, this is how the program works:
“TAA is an accelerator. TAA partners with a company by offering cost-sharing projects aimed at improving the firm’s global competitiveness. Specifically, the funds are applied toward the cost of consultants, engineers, or other outside professional service providers engaged on behalf of the firm to implement improvement projects in areas such as sales, engineering, marketing, systems, quality, and finance. This assistance enables the firm to make sweeping improvements to its competitive situation faster and more aggressively than it could on its own.”
There are 11 TAAF organizations throughout the country, and each of them is ready to help you become more competitive. Full disclosure: I have worked on six TAA projects and found them very helpful and useful to the companies that we collectively have worked for. TAAC staff are passionate about helping companies, making it as fair and easy as possible for them to get the financial help they need.
Here are some of the initiatives TAA will fund:
- Manufacturing and engineering projects
- ISO/QS9000/AS9100 preparation and registration
- Product development
- CAD/CAM selection and implementation
- Training for both manufacturing and quality
- And many others (however, they will not fund capital investments)
- Marketing and sales
- Market research
- Marketing and sales strategy
- Website development
- Salesforce management programs
- Distributor and sales representative searches
- Advertising, sales promotion, and brochure design
- Sales training
- And many others
- Financial planning and general management
- Debt restructuring
- Cost management
- Human resources planning and executive search
- Customized training design and implementation
- Compensation and incentive programs
- And many others
If this sounds too good to be true, take my word for it; it’s true. As I mentioned, I have worked on several TAA programs in the past, which were all productive and successful. One firm received $75,000 in matching funds; thus, they received $150,000 of services for only $75,000. I worked on company strategy, website development, sales representative recruitment, and marketing. Some of my associates have also worked on TAA programs, doing everything from successfully attaining the company’s AS9100 certification, to Six Sigma and Lean manufacturing training and implementation. I can honestly say that the programs worked well and delivered everything they promised they would.
The method of payment for the services is quite simple as well. Your service provider (or consultant) that you hire will submit two invoices: one for your half of the service fee, and the other half of the service fee for the local TAAC. Once the TAAC has proof that you’ve paid your half, they will pay their half; it’s as easy as that.
If you’re interested in getting your share of some TAA help, visit taacenters.org to find the contact information for your local TAAC. Call them, and they will help you through the qualification process. They will help with the application, choosing the services that could best help your situation, how to contract for these services, and the proper way to make sure you will be funded.
While this piece may read more like a public service announcement than a column, I’m always trying to find ways to help readers improve their competitive situations. And the TAA program is a great resource. So, get out there, and call your local TAA Center. Start improving your competitiveness today!
It’s only common sense.
Dan Beaulieu is president of D.B. Management Group.