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NIST To Fund Southwestern Pennsylvania Industrial Resource Center

Washington—The Clinton Administration today announced that the Commerce Department's National Institute of Standards and Technology will provide $1.6 million in funding for the Southwestern Pennsylvania Industrial Resource Center (SPIRC). The 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 Pennsylvania 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 $1.6 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 Pennsylvania center, 60 locally managed manufacturing extension centers—up from seven in 1993—are delivering much-needed services to this important sector of our economy."

SPIRC has been an affiliate of the MEP since 1994. Federal funding for SPIRC'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 SPIRC's knowledge of the numbers, types and needs of Southwestern Pennsylvania's smaller manufacturers; its technology and business resources; technology delivery mechanisms; and management and financial plan.

SPIRC brings together existing economic development, technology development, and education and training resources to give the region's smaller manufacturers the world-class skills, knowledge and systems needed to thrive in a global marketplace.

SPIRC offers manufacturing and business services to manufacturers in 13 counties: Allegheny, Armstrong, Beaver, Bedford, Butler, Cambria, Fayette, Greene, Indiana, Lawrence, Somerset, Washington, and Westmoreland. Services include technical and business assessments, production improvement, product design and development, environmental health and safety, education and training, business and strategic planning, and financial assistance.

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.

Released June 26, 1996, Updated November 27, 2017