Trade Adjustment Assistance for Firms (TAAF) was authorized by the Trade Act of 1974 in an effort to alleviate the adverse effects on workers, employers and communities resulting from increases in foreign imports. Sponsored by the U.S. Economic Development Administration, TAAF is a cost sharing federal assistance program that pays a portion of consultants or industry-specific experts’ expenses for projects that improve a firm’s competitiveness.
Applied Strategies International, Ltd., (ASI) was organized in 1982 as a private not-for-profit corporation operating the Midwest Trade Adjustment Assistance Center (Midwest TAAC). This center administers the program on behalf of the U.S. Economic Development Administration in Illinois, Iowa, Minnesota and Wisconsin. ASI acts as a liaison between manufacturers/service firms and the U.S. Economic Development Administration and remains the company’s advocate throughout the program.
The competitive pressures on American industry have led to sales and employment declines for many small and medium manufacturers and service firms. TAAF is designed to counteract temporary setbacks resulting from import competition by accelerating the recovery process, improving competitiveness and creating jobs. Companies can apply for program benefits at no charge. Specific requirements to qualify for assistance are a decrease in sales or production and employment and business lost to foreign competition.
Once accepted into the program, ASI works with each company to develop a plan analyzing the business and identifying specific projects to improve the company’s competitive position. Upon approval of the plan, implementation begins with cost sharing up to $150,000 for consultants, engineers or other outside professional service providers selected jointly with the firm. Examples of improvement projects include manufacturing efficiency, product development, quality certification, marketing and information systems enhancement. Typically, ASI pays 50% directly to the outside service provider and the company pays the remaining 50%. There is an option of a 75/25 cost share, up to a total of $30,000 for consultant expenses. The firm pays 25 percent and ASI pays the remaining 75 percent. Learn more about the process.
An independent study by the Urban Institute found that firms receiving Trade Adjustment Assistance increased sales by 33.9%, more than double the rate of non-participating firms. The same study found that TAAF spurs job growth – on average 4.2%, in contrast with an average 5.3% job loss for unassisted firms. For every federal dollar invested in this program, the Urban Institute estimates a return on taxpayer’s investment of over 300%. The Midwest TAAC has assisted over 700 companies in various industries since it began administering the program. Additional information, benefits and success stories are available on this site and at www.taacenters.org.