Article by Boris Lutz, CEO of BPA Solutions, March 2016
BPA Solutions would like to call your attention to a relatively unknown US federal program that can provide funding for US based organizations from all industry sectors, who have experienced a recent decline of minimum 5% in sales and employment as a result of import price competition.
Your firm may qualify to get funds.
Trade Adjustment Assistance for Firms (TAA), a federal program, provides financial assistance to firms in all industries affected by import competition. Sponsored by the U.S. Department of Commerce, this federal assistance program pays half of the cost of an ISO implementation project or any other project to improve global competitiveness.
“The TAA Program is a great way for any firm to get funds to strengthen their position in the market. It is very easy to get started and I encourage each firm that needs to develop additional capabilities – like implementing an ISO 9001 or CRM project – to find out whether they qualify for this great program.” says Dr. Boris Lutz, CEO at BPA Solutions.
Grants for an ISO 9001 Quality Management System implementation are available at a 50/50 cost sharing basis, up to $75,000. Over the last decade, many US based companies have been awarded with a matching grant to help them to develop their businesses just from applying for the Trade Adjustment Assistance Grant Program – so can you.
The program is called Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA). There is no cost to find out if you are eligible for this program. Through the TAA program, your firm might receive up to $75,000 in government assistance to develop and implement strategies including the required resources to implement an ISO-based Quality Management Systems (ISO 9001, ISO 14001 EHS, OHSAS 18001, etc.), or CRM system to improve your competitive edge. Typical projects are: quality management system implementation, sales and marketing improvement, new product development, productivity improvement, computer system upgrades, and export feasibility studies.
Let see how this program can help you to improve your competitive position and profitability.
Basically, any firm headquartered in the U.S. that can show a 5% decline in sales (dollar volume) for a current period (most recent 12 months) versus the same period last year, or a 5% decline in employment for the same period, and is indeed import-impacted, is eligible to be approved by the Department of Commerce (DOC). This U.S. government grant program can provide up to $75,000 of U.S. government funds on a cost sharing basis for firms that have been hurt by import competition over the last years. This program is available to all U.S. based firms that have experienced a decline in sales and employment due to import competition.
The program is available within all US States. Each US State has its own TAA Grant Administration office, responsible for collecting and managing all applications of firms for the grant program.
Three Phase Application
The program is divided into three easy consecutive application phases:
- Phase 1 – The firm is certified into the program. There is no cost for the firm to get certified.
- Phase 2 – This phase includes the development of the diagnostic analysis and adjustment plan, in which a suitable implementation project is defined.
- Phase 3 – is the project implementation phase, in which the firm can start implementing the project with an implementation partner and the local TAA office. The allocated grant will be used to fund the project.
For certification, your implementation partner will help you to build a petition based on your financial and employment data (two years), along with some other very basic information. Petition development can go very quickly (a few days) once all the information is available. Designated project application support will be provided by the TAA local office in your state.
After acceptance of the petition by the TAA Office, (about 60 days from receipt of the petition), an official company visit is required to clarify details and determine eligibility.
From that point, the implementation partner prepares an “Adjustment Plan (AP),” which goes to the TAA local office for internal approval. The AP cost depends on the firm revenues, but ranges from $3,000 to $12,000, with the TAA picking up 75% of the total AP cost. The maximum cost for the firm is $3,000. Once the AP is approved, the project implementation phase can start.
Funds up to $150,000 can be used for growth projects that are outlined in the AP. Funds are available on a 50/50 cost-sharing basis, depending upon the firm’s sales volume / size (i.e. the firm pays $75K and the TAA grant program pays $75K at a cap amount of $150K in project assistance for firms with over $3 million in sales).
The TAA grant program foresees also a mini-plan for smaller firms – around $1 million in sales – which caps project funds at $30K, but the program pays 75% of that total project cost. It is recommended to request support for application from your implementation partner.
The TAA Adjustment Assistance Program does not pay for any kind of asset purchase (machines, software, etc.), but pays for asset-related projects, such as software modification or implementation, ISO 9001 implementations, etc. They also cannot pay for off the shelf software or modules, and cannot pay firm’s employees. Outside those few limitations, the program generally pays for the partner implementation work. Firms must complete any approved project every six months (from the date of AP approval for the first project) in order to stay in the program and get the matching funding on re-occurring basis every year. In a recent change, firms are now required to complete the program within five years after their adjustment plan is approved.
Once the implementation program contract is signed, the implementation project can start. Local TAA offices encourage monthly billing, to ensure the client is satisfied with the results. The implementation partner bills half of the implementation cost to the responsible TAA local office and the other half to the firm. The program does not allow any direct payment to the implementation partner.
- Employees data
- Production Employees
- Total Net Sales
- Sales from Purchased Finished Products for Resale
- Sales for Exported Products
Firms must make sure employment numbers match the State Employer Quarterly Reports.
Production employees are employees that work on the import-impacted products.
Please make sure your net sales information matches your financial statements.