In face of foreign competition, Michigan agency tries to save jobs by helping small manufacturers

Jan 9, 2017

The Next Idea

The realities of a world economy aren't just being felt at big companies like General Motors or Ford. Small businesses are feeling the strain of foreign competition.

Our latest contributor to The Next Idea is directing a federal program aimed at helping small local businesses adjust to that foreign competition.

Scott Jacobs directs the Great Lakes Trade Adjustment Assistance Center at the University of Michigan and he joined Stateside to talk about the program and to define trade adjustment assistance (TAA).

TAA is a long-time program that most people think of as a retraining program for individual workers who have lost their job due to imports. Jacobs runs a segment of that program which focuses on firms.

"[TAA for firms] is really designed to help small companies after they've been hurt [by imports] but before they go out of business," said Jacobs. The TAA program provides companies with outside advice, guidance and consulting but there is also financial assistance available. Companies can receive as much as $75,000 in matching funds to help get them on the road to recovery. 

"We help companies invest in themselves," said Jacobs.

Listen to the full interview below to hear more about how the program works, an example of a success story that Jacobs has worked with and what advice they give to their clients who are facing overseas competition. 

The Next Idea is Michigan Radio's project devoted to new innovations and ideas that will change our state.

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