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Trade adjustment center awarded $1 million

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The U.S. Department of Commerce Economic Development Administration has awarded more than $1.3 million to the Southwest Trade Adjustment Assistance Center (SWTAAC) at UTSA. The award completes a three-year funding cycle, and represents an increase over the previous year’s award.

The Southwest Trade Adjustment Assistance Center (SWTAAC) provides a range of services to help manufacturing and service firms in Texas, Louisiana and Oklahoma regain a competitive edge in response to foreign competition.

The center’s project managers analyze client operations, determine areas where the firm can use assistance, and provide advice and follow-through to help clients improve their bottom line. Typical services include creating marketing and strategic growth plans, accessing funding, and improving the efficiency of operations.

“With this award, we’ll be able to increase our project management staff from three to four, and we’ll be able to put more money and resources in our clients’ hands,” says SWTAAC Director Robert Velasquez.

In 2009, the center’s tri-state portfolio included 74 firms with more than 3,000 employees. For these firms as a whole, the two-year average decline in sales before seeking SWTAAC assistance was 11 percent. After using the services provided by SWTAAC, firms reported a 49 percent increase in sales. The funding increase is based in part on the center’s solid performance record, Velasquez notes.

The center’s portfolio includes a wide range of clients.

For example, SOS from Texas is a manufacturer of organic cotton products. The business received assistance that lead to the company’s doubling its sales through increased Internet presence, trade show promotion and product development, said president Gary Oldham.

Similarly, Xenetech Global, Inc. in Baton Rouge, La., made use of the SWTAAC services when several of their long time, domestic distributors were recruited to sell low cost laser engraving systems produced in Taiwan. Project managers helped them plan for, apply and receive funds to improve marketing efforts and operating efficiencies.

“I don't know if we would be in business today if it were not for their efforts,” said Guy Barone, Xenetech president.



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