Posted November 09, 2021
A little-known but long-active center helping manufacturers across the South counteract the negative impact of import competition has received $1.2 million from the U.S. Commerce Department to further its mission.
The Atlanta-based Southeastern Trade Adjustment Assistance Center, or SETAAC, was one of 11 such centers around the country to welcome grants from the department’s Economic Development Administration Oct. 26, helping each to maintain operations as the program awaits formal congressional reauthorization.
SETAAC provides assistance to firms in the form of cost-sharing (matching) funds of up to $75,000 for those that can prove they were harmed due to trade competition. A similar (but much more controversial and expensive) federal program offers re-training at the individual worker level.
To qualify for the help, companies must show that they are “realizing decreased sales and employment due to import competition,” says SETAAC Executive Director Tracy Barth.
That comes in the form of a 5 percent drop on both metrics averaged over a recent 12-month period. They also have to prove that U.S. imports of products with their harmonized tariff code have increased over the last 24 months. SETAAC spends much of its time helping firms evaluate whether they can be certified — at no cost to the companies.
Ms. Barth said many are surprised that they can make the numbers work — all SETAAC needs is a spreadsheet with 24 months of sales and employment data to start making the comparisons.