Trade Adjustment Assistance Program Availability for Your Foundry

The Trade Adjustment Assistance for Firms program (TAAF) was created in 1974 by the Economic Development Administration of the U.S. Department of Commerce. It has long been an integral part of our nation’s trade policy. By helping small companies that have been negatively impacted by direct foreign competition improve their global competitiveness, it addresses the downside of free trade without the use of tariffs, duties or other trade barriers. TAAF is the only federal program specifically designed to help companies that have been negatively impacted by imports.

The Great Lakes Trade Adjustment Assistance Center (GLTAAC) is a federally funded non-profit organization that provides business assistance to manufacturers who have been directly hurt by imports. The GLTAAC brings the Trade Adjustment Assistance for Firms (TAAF) program to facilities in Ohio, Indiana and Michigan. Other Trade Adjustment Assistance Centers are available to support manufacturers in other regions of the country. The objectives of GLTAAC are to:

  • Immediately strengthen a firm’s competitiveness through practical assistance via planning and analysis,
  • Enhance long-term opportunities for business growth and employment through management and technical assistance.

GLTAAC engagements entail three phases: qualify and apply to the TAAF program, assessment of the business, and implementation of business improvement projects. Through this process, companies qualify for up to $75,000 of matching federal funds to support implementation projects.

  • Qualify: The GLTAAC works with a firm to make sure they qualify for the TAAF program. Read more about qualifying here. GLTAAC will compile the actual application (called a Petition) from information provided by the firm.
  • Plan: Once approved for the program, a GLTAAC Project Manager works directly with the company to assess the business and develop a recovery plan (called an Adjustment Plan). The plan summarizes the company’s strengths and weaknesses. It then identifies and defines specific projects to improve competitiveness. Read more about the planning process here.
  • Implement: With its plan in place, the firm implements its projects with GLTAAC assisting with half the cost of projects. Companies have up to five years to complete the program. However, program support can sometimes be used at a faster pace of three years. More about projects is available here.

TAAC program costs
Phase 1: The Application/Qualification Process is free
Phase 2: The Planning & Assessment Process – 75% of the costs in this phase are covered by the Economic Development Administration. Typically, firms pay $1,000 – $2,000 to complete the business assessment phase.
Phase 3: Implementation – Companies cover 50% of the cost to implement projects.

GLTAAC clients report they appreciate the project assistance of up to $75,000 in matching funds that can be used to tackle crucial initiatives. Some of the results for current and recent clients include:

  • Two-thirds of TAAF clients generated a profit from operations in 2019 (compared to only 44% that were profitable before working with GLTAAC).
  • 77% of firms report that they are more competitive now than they were before entering the TAAF program.
  • More than half of firms grew sales last year, while 58% improved their productivity, and one-third added employees.
  • They have grown total sales by an average of 46%, and jobs by 23%.
  • GLTAAC has a 100% 5-year client survival rate (100% of firms assisted since 1/1/2015 are still in business)

Examples of TAAF projects in the foundry industry
Example 1: Market Planning for Gray Iron Foundry
This gray iron foundry had been in business for over a century, during which time it had never needed a formal marketing strategy to generate sales. In its 107th year, however, the company found its proven expertise, broad capabilities and excellent reputation were suddenly no longer sufficient to secure adequate sales or new accounts. This project helped the company develop and implement a targeted marketing plan and sales system, based on hard data from existing customers, prospective customers and reps. It entailed market research, coaching, plan codification, system development, and implementation assistance. Deliverables included a targeted and pre-qualified prospect list, detailed action plan programs, a new quote tracking system, an upgraded sales rep system, and a new website. “We are now a much more organized and professional company,” said their President.

Example 2: Fisher Cast Steel Improves Competitiveness
Fisher Cast Steel (FCS) is a foundry in  Ohio that specializes in sand and investment castings in stainless, carbon and other alloys. The company, which was founded in 1957, supplies a variety of industries including food processing, power and energy, and aerospace. Around 2013, rising imports started affecting sales, and over the next three years, revenues declined by nearly 20%. FCS remained financially sound, though it was clear to the firm that they needed to continue improving in order to maintain existing customers and attract new ones. FCS entered the TAAF program in 2017.

Working with GLTAAC, the company developed an Adjustment Plan that focused on investing in their employees, quality program, software, and equipment. Following their plan, FCS has completed several projects through the TAAF program to date:

  • The company overhauled its website to better highlight its strong capabilities.
  • A move to a new ERP system improved both productivity and customer service.
  • Quality training for staff enabled the firm to update its ISO quality certification (which was desired by many potential customers).
  • And FCS is currently using the program to design a new furnace to replace one that is aging and less efficient.

FCS will soon complete the TAAF program and the firm’s competitiveness is much improved. Sales have rebounded significantly and FCS is now better positioned to grow and stay viable for years to come.

Foundries located in Indiana, Michigan or Ohio are encouraged to contact the GLTAAC at (734) 998-6227 or [email protected]. Foundries in other regions of the country should contact the TAAC for their area which can be located at http://taacenters.org/locations.html.