Georgia companies that have suffered a decline in sales and employment due to import competition are encouraged to apply for grants from the U.S. Commerce Department as soon as possible because allocations are to be determined in the next few months.

“This is a great way to pay for half or more of the costs of projects that can put a firm back on solid competitive ground,” J. Mark Hannah, project manager at Georgia Institute of Technology’s Economic Development Institute, said last week at a meeting of the North Georgia District Export Council. “We’re currently certifying and getting new firms in line for March 2005 funding awards.”

Mr. Hannah oversees the program that provides as much as $75,000 for turn-around or growth projects through the Southeastern Trade Adjustment Assistance Center at Georgia Tech.

He said that manufacturing firms with U.S. headquarters that can show a decline in sales for a period of three to 12 months due to imports in comparison to the same period the year before are eligible. The firms also must be able to show a decline of 5 percent in employment due to import competition.

Once a firm has been approved, private consultants are hired to implement “an adjustment plan.” The center manages contracts on behalf of the firm, but it is the firm that has final consultant selection rights and signs all contracts, he said.

“We cannot pay for assets, but can pay for things related to assets such as equipment training, installation, specialized software modules, etc.”

The North Georgia District Export Council is composed of local businesspeople that the Commerce Department has appointed to assist companies with their exports.

To reach Mr. Hannah, call (404) 894-4407 or send an email to