The Clinton Administration today announced that the Commerce Department's National Institute of Standards and Technology will provide $2 million in funding for the Mid-America Manufacturing Technology Center.
President Bill Clinton said, "Cost-sharing is just one indication of the true partnership that is taking place at this 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."
MAMTC is part of NIST's cost-sharing Manufacturing Extension Partnership, which offers technical and business assistance to small and medium-sized manufacturers. MAMTC provides services to smaller manufacturers In Kansas, Colorado, Missouri and Wyoming.
In addition to the $2 million provided by NIST, state organizations and others contribute an equal or greater amount of funding. 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 Mid-America 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.
An affiliate of the MEP since 1991, MAMTC initially provided services to manufacturers in Kansas and western Missouri. Unless Congress eliminates the "sunset" clause in the legislation that created MEP or grants the center an extension, MAMTC will not receive federal funding to service manufacturers in Kansas and western Missouri beyond March 1997. Originally, centers were intended to be self-supporting after six years, largely through fees obtained in licensing technologies from NIST and other federal laboratories to small and medium-sized manufacturers. Since most of America's smaller firms are not ready for or do not need high-tech solutions, MEP centers now offer a broad range of technical and business assistance.
Without federal support, the centers are likely to shift their emphasis from smaller firms to larger ones that are less expensive to reach and serve and that can pay fees for larger projects.
In 1995, Congress authorized a three-year extension for two other MEP-affiliated centers that had reached their sixth year: the Great Lakes Manufacturing Technology Center in Cleveland and the Southeast Manufacturing Technology Center in Columbia, South Carolina.
NIST's decision to continue funding MAMTC's Kansas and western Missouri operations followed a thorough review by the agency of MAMTC's knowledge of the numbers, types and needs of the smaller manufacturers served by the center; its technology and business resources; technology delivery mechanisms; and management and financial plan.
MAMTC's service area includes about 20,000 potential client firms, with a concentration in aircraft and fabricated metal parts, food processing and agricultural equipment industries. More than 78 percent of MAMTC's clients are small manufacturers with fewer than 50 employees. Through 26 field offices, MAMTC's staff of about 90 manufacturing experts can provide assistance in many technical, management and marketing areas. MAMTC is a non-profit subsidiary of the Kansas Technology Enterprise Corp. and also is supported by the Missouri Department of Economic Development, Colorado State University, and the Wyoming Science, Technology and Energy Authority.
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.