IBA, as the premier business brokerage firm in the Pacific Northwest, is firmly established as a respected professional service firm in the legal, accounting, banking, mergers & acquisitions, real estate, and financial planning communities. Periodically, we will post guest blogs from professionals with knowledge to share for the good of owners of privately held companies & family owned businesses. The following content has been provided by David Holbert of Northwest TAAC (www.nwtaac.org):
Government Grant Funding Source for Manufacturing Company Improvement or Innovation
As the owner of a small to medium-sized agri-business, you handle numerous operational challenges in addition to working hard to develop a niche, and you differentiate your products from domestic and foreign competition. You have identified ways to increase visibility and expand your markets as well as streamline production. You have ideas for value-added, new product development, and innovative packaging that you know will be successful and, of course, you will need certifications that will open up new markets for your products. It would also be great if you could tweak your website, adding functionality, some new graphics, and search engine optimization. Important priority projects that would grow your business.
So now comes the dilemma; how to fund these improvements. More debt is not an option. You could apply for U.S.D.A., state or local grants. A grant proposal could take lots of time to put together. It is always a risk, not knowing what the grant reviewers are really looking for, and possibly, not getting it after all of the work because there was a limited amount of funding and you were competing with others. It would be nice to get a grant you don’t have to compete for, and not do the actual writing of a grant.
That option does exist. It is the funding and services available through a little known federal grant program administered by a nonprofit corporation, the Northwest Trade Adjustment Assistance Center, (NorthwestTAAC). Carmen Ranch, Foulke Family Farms/Freddy Guys Hazelnuts, Triangle Farms, Duckwall-Pooley Fruit Company, and Truitt Bros/Truitt Family Foods, are just a few of the Oregon-based agri-businesses that have taken advantage of this grant funding and support services. They have contracted with consultants to complete business improvement projects of their choice using federal grant funds available through the program.
Obtaining eligibility for this funding is not based on the value judgment of a grant reviewer. You are not competing with other companies for the funds. Your company qualifies based on meeting specific objective criteria such as sales and import competition levels. You provide the required information to the staff and they do all of the work free of charge; putting the petition together and submitting it to the U.S. Department of Commerce for approval. In addition, based on the information gathered from you, the staff can tell you ahead of time whether your company meets the qualifying criteria or not.
After obtaining eligibility, there is a one-time charge of $500 or $1000, based on company sales, for writing the improvement project plan. Federal funds then pay for 50-75 percent of each project, up to a limit of $75,000 in federal funding. The staff partners with your company from the start of each project through to completion, making sure that you are satisfied with the results achieved.
The choice of projects and consultants to do the work is yours. Carmen Ranch in Wallowa, used the funds for development and implementation of a distribution model and marketing program as well as website design. According to Cory Carmen, owner of Carmen Ranch, “Even though it takes some paperwork to get certified, the results and support were tremendous; it was the jumpstart we needed.” Triangle Farms in Silverton, created new packaging design and revamped their website using the funds. Kevin Loe, owner of Triangle Farms, states that the website, especially, has connected them with international buyers; sales have increased as a result. Fred Duckwall, owner of Duckwall-Pooley Fruit Company in Hood River, states that the packaging project the company completed using the funds opened new markets, and increased penetration into existing ones.
Barb Foulke, owner of Foulke Family Farms in Monmouth, used the funds for software development and training as well as a video for the company website. She comments that she would not have participated in a government-sponsored program normally, but that the NorthwestTAAC staff and the supporshe received changed her mind. Truitt Bros. in Salem used the funds to formulate and test new products and support the products with marketing materials. According to Jeff Beyer, Chief Operating Officer of Truitt, “the program was easy to use and is an effective use of taxpayer dollars.” C.L. Lowenberg of Clackamas, owner of the Fishing Vessel Arctic Lady, pooled his grant funding with two other vessels to benefit the “Deadliest Catch” Alaska Bering Sea Crabbers Association marketing campaign; to improve outreach and more effectively promote the value of Red King Crab.
The program is available to businesses in Oregon, Washington, Idaho, Alaska and Montana. The NorthwestTAAC staff has many years of experience helping agri-businesses make the most of this funding opportunity, and works with you to achieve your plan for growth.
If you have questions about the content of this article or would like to obtain information related to the services offered by Northwest TAAC (www.nwtaac.org), Patrick Meuleman would welcome communication at (800) 667—8087 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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