MEP has partnered with several government agencies to leverage the MEP national network and bring agency-specific resources and information directly to U.S. manufacturers. Successful programs have developed with several agencies described below.
Interagency Network of Enterprise Assistance Providers (INEAP)
In response to the recommendation in the DoC Manufacturing in America report, MEP organized and held 8 monthly meetings of the INEAP, whose goal is to facilitate knowledge exchange, enable collaborations across organizational boundaries and leverage network outreach opportunities. The INEAP has been very successful and has developed a reputation among other Federal Agencies to the point that they are contacting MEP requesting to participate. Currently there are over 79 participants, representing 45 distinct business and technical assistance programs in 10 Federal agencies (Department of Agriculture, DOC, DOD, DOE, DOL, DHS, EPA, State Department, Export-Import Bank, HUD, DOJ-IRS, & SBA as well as non-profit associations APTAC, ASBDC, US Chamber of Commerce, US Women's Chamber of Commerce, and others).
In response to a need for leveraging resources to reach and better serve more SMEs, MEP and the Small Business Development Centers (SBDC) have organized the Interagency Network of Enterprise Assistance Providers. Each month at the headquarter program–level, partnership catalysts representing over 45 programs from over 12 federal departments, agencies, organizations and associations, initiate and build on relationships eagerly exploring innovative ways to work more effectively. Membership includes Departments of Agriculture, Commerce, Defense, Energy, Labor, Homeland Security, Housing and Urban Affairs, Justice, Treasury and State. Also, the Small Business Administration, Environmental Protection Agency, Export-Import Bank, as well as non-profit associations APTAC, ASBDC, US Chamber of Commerce, US Women's Chamber of Commerce, and others).
Initially INEAP members started by learning about each other's programs, management and field operations. Recent discussions have been on creative joint service delivery opportunities and sharing best practices in policies and program impact assessment practices. The INEAP network of networks is committed to finding ways to maximize resources while serving larger numbers of smaller manufacturers to achieve greater economic impacts.
Department of Labor, Employment and Training Administration
The U.S. Department of Labor's Employment and Training Administration (ETA) is dedicated to the more efficient functioning of the U.S. labor market by providing high quality job training, employment, labor market information, and income maintenance services primarily through state and local workforce development systems. MEP works with ETA and their state and local workforce systems to promote talent development in mfg industries and ensure that mfg remains an engine of growth for regional economic development strategies. MEP is a principal partner in ETA's WIRED [hotlink to info about WIRED below] initiative in multiple regions around the country and collaborates in a technology transfer project to promote the use of new technologies in manufacturing industries. MEP has supported ETA's initiatives related to promoting advanced manufacturing and innovation at both the company and regional levels.
Environmental Protection Agency, Green Suppliers Network
Recognizing the significant cost savings opportunities in reducing and eliminating waste throughout the manufacturing process, MEP and EPA jointly developed the Green Suppliers Network. This program, initiated in 2004, assists suppliers in a growing number of industries including aerospace, automotive, healthcare, and furniture to save money, optimize resource use, and eliminate waste through on-site technical reviews, resulting in higher profits and fewer environmental impacts. MEP has received over $500K from EPA to support GSN. Recent accomplishments include: 40 completed GSN reviews, the identification of over $6.9M per year in environmental impact savings, over $18.9M per year in cost savings from lean opportunities, and one time cost savings of $19.5M.
As recognition of the contributions of MEP to the EPA GSN program, two MEP staff received bronze medals at the Office of Pollution Prevention and Toxics (OPPT) awards ceremony.
Department of Commerce, International Trade Administration
MEP jointly developed, with the ITA U.S. Export Assistance Centers (USEAC), a seminar series on export sales strategies for CEOs of manufacturing companies, "Growing Your International Business: Successful Export Strategies for Manufacturing CEOs." For the collaborative effort, the USEACs provided $250K in funding. From April 2006 to September 2006, nine seminars have been conducted with 60 CEOs in attendance. Three additional seminars are currently scheduled with other hosts expressing interest in the series. The export seminars were recently highlighted in Under Secretary Lavin's weekly report. www.export.gov.
Department of Commerce, Economic Development Administration
EDA annually presents a series of Excellence in Economic Development Awards. Catalyst Connection, the MEP center in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, won the 2006 Enhancing Regional Competitiveness award for their effectiveness in enhancing regional competitiveness and supporting the long-term development of the regional economy.
Department of Commerce, Trade Adjustment Assistance Centers
There are 11 Trade Adjustment Assistance Centers (TAAC) located across the country that are funded through the Department of Commerce's Economic Development Administration. They offer cost-shared technical assistance to help trade-impacted manufacturers remain competitive in the global marketplace. MEP and TAAC are collaborating through efforts to support companies that have experienced recent declines in sales and employment due at least in part to increasing imports of competitive products. The TAAC assists by paying a percentage of the cost of the MEP Center consulting services designed to help the firm improve its competitive position. Typical projects that can be funded for affected and eligible U.S. manufacturers include export assistance, ISO 9000 certification and plant and engineering improvements.
Health and Human Services, National Institutes of Health
MEP and NIH are in the final stages of developing a twelve-month SBIR pilot project under which NIH will provide $375K for the MEP to work with a number of NIH Phase II awardees. Results of this pilot are expected to be used in guiding a larger two-year funded partnership between MEP and NIH, improving commercialization by their Phase II awardees – a critical issue for NIH and other federal SBIR agencies. "The manufacturing technical expertise of your organization enhances and nicely complements our assistance program," says Jo Anne Goodnight, NIH SBIR/STTR Program Coordinator. Projects began in January 2007.
National Science Foundation
MEP continues to work with NSF to utilize the MEP center system for SBIR support and to explore possible partnering on education and training projects. NSF program directors participated in a webcast for MEP field staff to learn about NSF SBIR Manufacturing Innovation topics and the value of participating in the NSF SBIR Phase II workshop on commercialization. NSF's Manufacturing Innovation Highlights references working with MEP to identify manufacturing topic areas for future SBIR solicitations.
Health and Human Services, Food and Drug Administration
In response to the Public Health Security and Bioterrorism Preparedness and Response Act, the FDA is implementing new security regulations within the food manufacturing industry including the registration of food facilities and the requirement for record keeping of the immediate and subsequent recipient of food. The FDA's Center for Food Safety and Nutrition is providing MEP with $300K to bring FDA training and outreach to a broader audience of small and mid-sized food manufacturers. To support this effort, MEP has also developed a partnership with the USDA's Cooperative Extension System and their Extension Disaster Education Network [EDEN].
Department of Energy, Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy
An Memorandum of Understanding was recently signed by the NIST director with DOE. MEP has partnered with the DOE EERE Industrial Technologies Program to provide energy efficiency training for MEP field staff through the DOE Industrial Assessment Centers. By conducting energy audits using the DOE Quick Plant Energy Profiler (PEP) tool, MEP is able to assist DOE in meeting its objectives of addressing the priority energy technology needs of U.S. manufacturers in the plastics, wood products and metal casting industries. Through the MEP network, the IACs will deliver energy efficiency best practices, analysis tools, energy assessments, technical information and training. The collaboration is expected to deliver a wide range of energy efficiency information so as to impact more than 1,800 plants in the first year.
The 26 university-based DOE sponsored Industrial Assessment Centers that are part of the Industrial Technologies Program are supporting summer interns to work with their local MEP to offer energy efficiency assessments and help with using their Quick Plant Energy Profiler web-based tool. The objectives of this activity are to provide "in-house" energy expertise to the MEP center to assist smaller manufacturers with energy efficiency needs, offer IAC students additional learning opportunities to complement their IAC experience, and to foster greater partnership and cooperation between the MEP and IAC as encouraged in the recently signed Memorandum of Understanding between DOE and NIST.