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.

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

Seattle Business magazine honored 18 pioneering companies and individuals at the tenth annual Washington Manufacturing Awards gala Tuesday night at the Hyatt Regency Lake Washington in Renton. The event attracted business leaders from across the state. “The honorees are companies with outstanding products and innovative processes,” said Leslie Helm, editor of Seattle Business magazine. “They boost their competitiveness through improved manufacturing and effective marketing — and they remind us of the strength and promise of Washington’s manufacturing sector.”

Find the 2019 award winners here:

ABOUT SEATTLE BUSINESS: Seattle Business is an award-winning monthly magazine read by thousands of business executives across the state. It delivers insight into the key people, enterprises and trends that drive business in the Pacific Northwest, providing perspective on the region’s ever-changing economic environment.

Bernston Porter & Co. PLLC., has published their third edition of the BP Pulse, including their 2019 manufacturing distribution survey. David Holbert, Executive Director of the NorthwestTAAC was quoted in the International Landscape section:

“Import competition can arrive suddenly and many companies don’t see it coming,” warns David Holbert of the Northwest Trade Adjustment Assistance Center (NWTAAC). “The span of industries and products that are affected is surprising – import impact is not confined to predictable sectors. When faced with a sudden challenge, for example a 50% price disadvantage, the companies that tend to succeed recognize that something must change in their business. They can’t win by just trying harder. Often this change entails moving toward customization, more responsive service, verifiable quality, or rapid delivery – all areas in which domestic companies have natural advantages.

Such changes are often introduced or facilitated by outside expertise in myriad areas. To demonstrate – between 2005 and 2017 NWTAAC tracked 200 companies averaging $15M in sales. They all had had declines in sales and employment – often steep. They all fought back in the manner described above. Aggregate results for those companies showing an 8.9% per annum sales increase for the several years following the introduction of a plan for change focused on outside expertise. This is a strong endorsement of the idea that with better knowledge, targeting, and tools, domestic companies can overcome the significant challenges of import competition.”

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