Ms. Carroll A. Thomas, Director of the Hollings Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP) at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) of the U.S. Department of Commerce leads a nationwide network of centers focused on helping U.S. manufacturers strengthen their supply chain integration and access new technology thereby helping them to compete globally. Each MEP Center through a unique consortium of public/private partnerships consisting of state, higher education and local nonprofits focuses on providing support to small and medium-size U.S. manufacturers. MEP’s national network includes more than 440 service locations with more than 1,300 trusted advisors serving as technical experts to help business manufacturing owners increase profits, create and retain jobs and establish a foundation for long-term growth and productivity. The MEP program currently receives $130 million dollars in federal funding that is matched with an additional $180 million in funding and fees collected to support these efforts.
Between 2012-2015, Ms. Thomas was the Associate Administrator for the U.S. Small Business Administration’s (SBA) Office of Small Business Development Centers (SBDCs). At SBA, Ms. Thomas led program and policy development for the national SBDC network with oversight of the $113 million matched, public/private grants that funded the SBDCs 900+ service locations located in every state plus the District of Columbia, Guam, Puerto Rico, American Samoa and the U.S. Virgin Islands.
For over 12 years prior to joining SBA, Ms. Thomas served in various leadership functions at NIST MEP, serving as Program Manager for Supplier Scouting and as the Partnership Catalyst to help government service providers seamlessly assist small manufacturers. She implemented pilots to support Buy America procurement provisions by matching U.S. manufacturers with opportunities from publicly-funded projects and co-founded the Interagency Network of Enterprise Assistance Providers.
Earlier in her career, Ms. Thomas was a small manufacturer/retail franchise owner; negotiated product deals with over 23,000 U.S. inventors and small manufacturers for electronic retailer QVC and directed marketing efforts for the National Gallery of Art’s vast reproduction portfolio.
With more than 30 years of entrepreneurial and small business development experience, her accomplished public/ private sector career demonstrates her leadership expertise as a catalyst for creating innovative partnerships and advocating economic development by supporting dynamic innovative ecosystems.
Ms. Thomas is a graduate and member of Leadership Greater Washington and former Regional Director and Chair of the Fashion Group International of Greater Washington, DC’s Foundation and Board. She also serves on the ALCO for the State Department Federal Credit Union’s Board.
Ms. Thomas holds a Bachelor of Science degree from Drexel University in Design and a Master of Business Administration from Johns Hopkins University in International Business.