The Clinton Administration today announced that the Commerce Department's National Institute of Standards and Technology will provide $1.4 million in funding for the Connecticut State Technology Extension Program. CONN/STEP is part of NIST's cost-sharing Manufacturing Extension Partnership, which offers technical and business 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 Connecticut 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 $1.4 million provided by NIST, the Connecticut Department of Economic and Community Development is providing $1 million, with an additional $400,000 provided by other sources. Federal funding to support MEP affiliates initially is matched by state or local funding, fees for services and industry contributions.
"This award reflects the 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 Connecticut center, 60 locally managed manufacturing extension centers up from seven in 1993 are delivering much-needed services to this important sector of our economy," he said.
CONN/STEP has been an affiliate of the MEP since 1994. Federal funding for its activities initially came from the Defense Department's Technology Reinvestment Project. NIST's decision to continue funding CONN/STEP followed a thorough review by NIST of CONN/STEP's knowledge of the numbers, types and needs of Connecticut's smaller manufacturers; its technology and business resources; technology delivery mechanisms; and management and financial plan.
CONN/STEP's mission is improving Connecticut's economic competitiveness by applying advanced manufacturing and management technologies. It helps state manufacturers to define, prioritize and address critical issues affecting their competitive performance. In addition to 16 regionally based field engineers who provide on-site assessments and technical assistance, CONN/STEP offers companies access to specialized technology and training centers as well as to technology and business services available through the program's public- and private-sector partners.
CONN/STEP is managed by Connecticut Technology Associates Inc., a non-profit organization, with additional sponsorship from the Connecticut Department of Economic and Community Development under the Manufacturers Assistance Network.
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 and $43,000 savings in labor and material costs.
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.