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Idaho TechHelp was recently awarded a $1.5 million grant through the U.S. Economic Development Administration’s national 2020 Venture Challenge Competition to fund the South Idaho Design-Prototype Center (SIDPC). TechHelp was one of 29 organizations selected for this award from a pool of 417 applicants nationwide. The grant was matched by TechHelp collaborators for an additional $1.5 million to expand a much-needed talent pipeline to industries in Idaho, as well as provide a career on-ramp for student employees who manage the center’s projects and operations alongside engineering professionals and entrepreneurs. 

The funds will jumpstart theSouth Idaho Design-Prototype Center (SIDPC) project, a planned three-year collaboration with Boise State’s College of Engineering and College of Business and Economics, Southwest Idaho industry partners, and the Southwest Idaho Manufacturers’ Alliance. The center will scale up the New Product Development (NPD) Lab at the College of Engineering, which has fueled workforce development, entrepreneurship, and economic growth in Idaho since 2001. 
 
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Local manufacturing businesses and jobs have experienced a resurgence in recent years that needs to continue for our region’s livelihood and connection to the global economy.

Before the pandemic, the manufacturing sector employed 11.6 million workers in the United States. During the past three years, approximately 500,000 manufacturing jobs were added to the economy. In 2018 alone, 264,000 manufacturing jobs were added, the most created in any single year in more than two decades. Locally in the Pacific Northwest, there were more than half a million manufacturing jobs. Of those, approximately 43% were employed by small firms.

While manufacturers have not been immune to the hit we’ve seen many sectors take during 2020 due to the pandemic, we’re already seeing the manufacturing sector start to rebound. In fact, 29,000 manufacturing jobs were added in August 2020 alone.   This is both encouraging and necessary for our region as consumers worldwide are increasingly seeking “Made in the USA” products and services. On a macro level during the past couple decades, U.S.-manufactured goods that are exported to other countries have quadrupled. Plus, nearly six in 10 U.S. export dollars come from manufacturers, establishing them as a crucial component to our role in the international marketplace.

In North America specifically, the passage of the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) earlier this year has and will continue to drive job creation and strengthen manufacturing in the Pacific Northwest. And since the USMCA establishes a committee on small business issues for the first time in any U.S. trade agreement, it will ensure small manufacturing voices are heard.

As local manufacturers are pivoting and innovating to operate in a new environment – and in some cases, switching production to support critical needs of medical equipment and Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) – it takes public and private entities working together for small manufacturing firms to succeed. The federal government is clearing red tape out of the way for small manufacturing firms by reducing regulations.
During the past few years, federal agencies have issued multiple deregulatory actions for every new significant regulatory action, saving businesses billions in regulatory costs.

In light of the Coronavirus pandemic, many federal regulations have been temporarily lifted; and, regional advocates from the SBA Office of Advocacy are talking to businesses to explore opportunities to permanently clear some of these regulations if they have been burdensome to small firms.

In the span of a week this past spring, the SBA rolled out one of the largest economic recovery programs the country has ever seen. Financing programs like the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) program, and traditional SBA loan programs have preserved Pacific Northwest jobs and infused approximately $32 billion into Pacific Northwest small businesses in 2020.With federal programs, local government, and industry and business organizations working together – combined with the ingenuity of Pacific Northwest small businesses – the manufacturing industry will prevail and ultimately thrive.  

Jeremy Field is the Regional Administrator for the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) Pacific Northwest Region which serves Washington, Oregon, Idaho and Alaska. 

When an American worker loses their job due to competition created by international trade, the Trade Adjustment Act provides funding for that worker to be retrained for a new job. A cousin to that program is the Trade Adjustment Assistance for Firms program.

Instead of retraining workers, the federal program retrains companies, from farms to manufacturers, that are facing revenue losses because of trade, usually in the form of competition from low-cost imports. The TAAF provides a dollar for dollar match up to $75,000 for businesses to bring in outside expertise to help them better compete.

“If a company is facing very strong price competition, they generally find themselves in a situation where something has to change. They have to find a new corner of the market. They have to get better at doing something,” said David Holbert, the CEO of the Northwest Trade Adjustment Assistance Center.

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Oregon has lost the most jobs per capita to trade and offshoring, according to the nonprofit Trade Justice Education Fund, according to a new feature article by Jade McDowell of the East Oregonian daily newspaper. Data from the report relied on the federal Trade Adjustment Assistance for Workers program, a sister-program of the TAA for Firms program.

Read the full article here

In response to the national public health and economic threats caused by
COVID-19, four relief laws were enacted as of June 2020, including the CARES
Act, in March 2020. These laws have appropriated $2.6 trillion across the
government. Six areas—Paycheck Protection Program (PPP); Economic
Stabilization and Assistance to Distressed Sectors; unemployment insurance;
economic impact payments; Public Health and Social Services Emergency Fund;
and Coronavirus Relief Fund—account for 86 percent of the appropriations.

You can read the full report here

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ESOURCES TO HELP SMALL AND MEDIUM SIZED MANUFACTURERS MANAGE DURING THE CORONAVIRUS (COVID-19) PANDEMIC

There are 51 Hollings Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP) Centers in all 50 states and Puerto Rico which are waiting to help those small and medium sized manufacturers (SMMs) through this crisis with more than 1,400 trusted advisors and experts at approximately 375 MEP service locations. The MEP National Network can assist manufacturers with most business operations and workforce needs, which includes but is not limited to business continuity planning and supply chain assistance including supplier scouting.

The Foundation for Manufacturing Excellence works side by side with these Centers as the continuing manufacturing education entity providing the latest and most up to date information to these advisors regarding the coronavirus pandemic, how it’s impacting SMMs today, and providing resources to the Centers, SMMs and the public.

Please contact your local MEP Center for additional information, guidance or assistance. We are in this together.

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All Northwest counties are now eligible for disaster loans from the U.S. Small Business Administration.

Small businesses in all Northwest counties are now eligible to apply for low‑interest U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) Economic Injury Disaster Loans to offset economic losses because of reduced revenues caused by the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. Check the SBA website for the most updated information.

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GLTAAC helps Rexarc International

Rexarc International, located in West Alexandria, Ohio, is a global leader in manufacturing of acetylene gas plants and related equipment.  Rexarc recently qualified for the Trade Adjustment Assistance for Firms (TAAF) program, with help from the Great Lakes Trade Adjustment Assistance Center (GLTAAC), after losing sales to low-cost foreign producers from India and elsewhere.  Rexarc was able to implement business improvement projects through the TAAF program, which is paying for half of their cost to help the company develop new markets.

 “We are excited to be working with GLTAAC.  The $75,000 of project co-funding they provide is going to help us make improvements we’ve been wanting to make, but were just outside our reach as a small business.  We are thankful to our local contacts at the University of Dayton’s Fastlane, for making us aware of the opportunity and connecting us with GLTAAC,” said Rexarc CEO, Rob Moyer. 

Working through the TAAF program, GLTAAC helps small manufacturers that have been hurt by imports to identify, develop, implement, and pay for business improvement projects designed to increase their global competitiveness. GLTAAC is the sister office of NWTAAC and provides similar assistance to impacted firms.

TAAF

TAAF (Trade Adjustment Assistance for Firms) is the only federal program specifically designed to help companies that have been negatively impacted by imports.

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