Washington—The Clinton Administration today announced that the Commerce Department's National Institute of Standards and Technology will provide $3.8 million in funding for the Georgia Manufacturing Extension Alliance. The Georgia organization is part of the NIST Manufacturing Extension Partnership which offers technical assistance to small and medium-sized manufacturers.
President Bill Clinton said, "Cost-sharing is just one indication of the true partnership that is taking place at the Georgia center and around the country. The goal in each of these centers is to create and retain high-quality jobs for U.S. workers and to help smaller manufacturers be even more productive."
In addition to the $3.8 million provided by NIST, state organizations and others contribute an equal amount. Federal funding to support MEP affiliates initially is matched by state or local funding, fees for services and industry contributions.
"This award reflects this Administration's renewed commitment to assisting our nation's 381,000 smaller manufacturers through this important program," said Commerce Secretary Mickey Kantor. "We have dramatically expanded the MEP to help those manufacturers become more competitive in world markets. Including the Georgia center, 60 locally managed manufacturing extension centers—up from seven in 1993—are delivering much-needed services to this important sector of our economy."
GMEA has been an affiliate of the MEP since 1994. Federal funding for GMEA's activities initially came from the Defense Department's Technology Reinvestment Project. NIST's decision to continue funding followed a thorough review by NIST of GMEA's knowledge of the numbers, types and needs of Georgia's smaller manufacturers; its technology and business resources; technology delivery mechanisms; and management and financial plan.
GMEA is a non-profit, public-private partnership led by the Georgia Institute of Technology. Its goal is to make Georgia's 9,000-plus small and medium-sized manufacturers more productive and competitive in today's global economy. These companies—employing some 550,000 people—represent industries vital to Georgia's economic growth such as carpet, apparel, textiles, wood products, food processing, metalworking, electronics, paper, transportation equipment, and chemicals.
GMEA's principal partners are Georgia Tech's Economic Development Institute, the University of Georgia's Small Business Development Centers, the Georgia Department of Technical and Adult Education, and Georgia Power Company's Technology Applications Center.
GMEA helps firms by means of on-site technical assistance, assessments, seminars and workshops, manufacturing networks, and other means. The services are delivered chiefly through 18 regional extension offices located around the state and through several specialized skill centers. (A fact sheet on GMEA, including brief writeups on several companies that have improved due to GMEA assistance, is attached.)
The NIST MEP is a nationwide network of locally managed centers in 42 states and Puerto Rico offering technical assistance and the newest business practices to smaller manufacturers. While most MEP affiliates have been providing services for only a year or two, results from earlier established centers indicate that MEP's network of manufacturing extension services is fostering significant improvements in manufacturing and business performance.
According to a 1994 survey of 610 firms, benefits anticipated totaled $167 million, the cumulative result of sales increases and cost savings attributed to actions undertaken with technical assistance from MEP centers. Benefits per company included 5.6 jobs added or saved, $43,000 savings in labor and material costs, and an increase of almost $370,000 in sales.
A non-regulatory agency of the Commerce Department's Technology Administration, NIST promotes U.S. economic growth by working with industry to develop and apply technology, measurements and standards.