The Commerce Department's National Institute of Standards and Technology today announced 18 awards for new or expanded manufacturing extension programs as part of its Manufacturing Extension Partnership. With today's announcement, MEP now has affiliate centers in all 50 states and Puerto Rico. The Manufacturing Extension Partnership is a growing nationwide system of services and support for smaller manufacturers giving them unprecedented access to new technologies, resources, and expertise.
In commenting on these new awards, President Clinton said, "Small business is at the heart of our entrepreneurial economy. I am proud that through NIST's Manufacturing Extension Partnership, top-notch technical and business assistance is now available to smaller manufacturers in every state to create and retain high-quality American jobs."
New centers will be established in 11 states through these awards announced today: Alaska, California, Hawaii, Illinois, Louisiana, Mississippi, Nevada, New York, Oregon, South Dakota and Washington. The other awards will expand services or coverage in California, Kentucky, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma and Pennsylvania.
"Today's announcement reflects this Administration's continuing commitment to assisting our nation's 381,000 smaller manufacturers," said Commerce Secretary Mickey Kantor. "The Clinton Administration, working through the MEP, and in partnership with the private sector, is helping smaller manufacturers improve their competitiveness by offering much needed advice and consultation on modern technologies and business practices," he said.
Funding to support most affiliates in the MEP network initially is shared by the federal, state and local partners. Federal support is matched by state or local funding, fees for services, and industry contributions. The total amount of first-year federal funds requested to support the new MEP-affiliated programs announced today is $19.6 million. Cost-shared funding by state organizations and others is $21.0 million. (The 18 awards are contingent on negotiations of formal agreements between NIST and the sponsoring organizations.)
While most MEP affiliates have been providing services for only a year or two, results indicate that MEP's network of manufacturing extension services is fostering significant improvements in manufacturing and business performance. Recent preliminary Census surveys of MEP clients indicate that the national system is projected to create or save over 30,000 jobs annually and help companies achieve sales $550 million higher than if they had not received MEP services.
Independent studies have yielded similarly strong results. A recent study by the U.S. General Accounting Office reported that the assistance smaller manufacturers had received from manufacturing extension programs, including NIST's MEP, had positively affected their use of technology, the quality of their product, the productivity of their workers, their customers' satisfaction, their profits and their ability to meet production schedules.
A recent evaluation by Nexus Associates Inc. of the New York Manufacturing Extension Partnership determined that both the state's smaller manufacturers and the New York economy are reaping benefits. According to the evaluation, between 1992 and 1994, New York MEP clients, on average, increased their productivity by 20 percentage points more than a national comparison group. In addition, the New York MEP generated millions of dollars in value-added income, created as many as 1,900 jobs and brought in new state tax revenues.
The new MEP programs announced today were selected through a competitive process. They were evaluated based on the organization's knowledge of the numbers, types and needs of smaller firms in the proposed service region; technology and business resources; technology delivery mechanisms; and an effective management and financial plan.
Each center in the MEP network is a partnership, typically involving federal, state and local governments; industry; educational institutions; and other sources of expertise, information and funding support. Centers are non-profit organizations and are not federal government offices.
While each center tailors its services to meet the needs dictated by its location and manufacturing client base, some common services are offered by most extension centers. Broadly, these include helping manufacturers assess their current technology and business needs, define avenues for change and implement improvements. Working with other organizations, many centers also assist companies with quality management, workforce training, workplace organization, business systems, marketing or financial issues.
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.