Commerce Secretary Ronald H. Brown and U.S. Small Business Administration Administrator Erskine Bowles announced today an agreement to establish Small Business Development Center subcenters at the Manufacturing Technology Centers sponsored by Commerce's National Institute of Standards and Technology.
"We see this as a significant segment of our concept of providing 'one-stop shopping' for small manufacturing firms," said Brown. "We appreciate this opportunity to work with the Small Business Administration in our joint mission to support an important sector of the nation's economy, and I'm sure our clients at the MTCs appreciate it as well."
"Small businesses created 40 percent of the nation's new high-technology jobs in 1992, and studies show that small firms produce twice as many innovations per employee as large firms," Bowles said. "Linking the MTC technology transfer program with SBA's business development and financing programs will be a tremendous boost for these firms and for the American economy."
Under the agreement, NIST intends to provide funds to its network of Manufacturing Technology Centers—up to $250,000 per year for each center—to finance subcenters of the SBA's Small Business Development Centers Program. SBDCs provide a wide range of financial and business planning services for small and mid-sized businesses. The new program greatly broadens an earlier agreement between SBA and NIST designed to create ties between the NIST Manufacturing Technology Centers and the SBA's loan-guarantee program for small businesses. The SBDC subcenters established at the NIST MTCs not only will give MTC clients improved access to SBA programs but also will provide specialized services geared to needs of manufacturers.
Specific details of the operations of the subcenters will be decided by the individual MTCs, working with the lead SBDC agency in their states. Following MTC practice, programs will be tailored to meet the specific needs of manufacturers in their service areas.
Initially, NIST intends to support the program for three years at the seven existing MTCs and at any added during the trial period. After three years, NIST and SBA will sponsor an external review of the program to determine its effectiveness and decide if it should be continued.
Manufacturing Technology Centers are established in cooperation with a sponsoring non-profit organization. They help regional small and mid-sized manufacturers analyze requirements for improving quality and efficiency to remain competitive in local, national and world markets. The centers also assist in selecting appropriate modern technologies and processes, integrating new technologies into the manufacturer's operation, arranging workforce training and providing allied services.
The centers form the core of NIST's Manufacturing Extension Partnership, a planned national network of 100 manufacturing technology transfer and support centers along with an integrated system of "links" to other key service providers—such as the SBA—at national, regional and local levels. NIST MTCs are located in Albany, N.Y.; Columbia, S.C.; Ann Arbor, Mich.; Overland Park, Kan.; Cleveland; Los Angeles and Minneapolis. The NIST mission is to promote U.S. economic growth by working with industry to develop and implement technology, measurements and standards. NIST is an agency of the Commerce Department's Technology Administration.