The Commerce Department's National Institute of Standards and Technology will provide $450,000 in funding for the Delaware Manufacturing Alliance, U.S. Under Secretary of Commerce for Technology Mary Good announced today. Good made the announcement at the state's first Manufacturing Appreciation Week. The Alliance is part of the NIST Manufacturing Extension Partnership which offers technical and business assistance to small and medium-sized manufacturers.
"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 Delaware center, MEP affiliates in all 50 states and Puerto Rico are delivering much-needed services to this important sector of our economy," he said.
"Smaller American manufacturers have had a difficult time keeping up with the competition, especially in implementing new technologies and manufacturing techniques. That's why the services offered by the Delaware Manufacturing Alliance, and all the affiliates of the Manufacturing Extension Partnership, are so valuable. They enable smaller manufacturers to move up the technology ladder, achieving great improvements in their manufacturing and business performance," Good commented.
The Delaware Manufacturing Alliance has been an affiliate of the MEP since 1994. Federal funding for its activities initially came from the Defense Department's Technology Reinvestment Project. In addition to the $450,000 provided by NIST, state organizations and others are contributing an equal amount. Federal funding to support MEP affiliates initially is matched by state or local funding, fees for services and industry contributions.
NIST's decision to continue funding followed a thorough review in which the Alliance exhibited knowledge of the numbers, types and needs of the region's smaller manufacturers, as well as an understanding of the state's technology and business resources, technology delivery mechanisms, and management and financial plan.
Delaware's nearly 700 manufacturers 86 percent of which employ fewer than 100 workers are a vital component of the state's economy. While services are available to all of Delaware's smaller manufacturers, the Alliance focuses on firms in the chemicals, plastics, instruments and industrial machinery industries. Together, they account for 30 percent of Delaware manufacturers. Services are concentrated in three major areas: (1) organizing existing technology and informational resources to make them more accessible and useful to manufacturers; (2) helping firms to identify and prioritize their manufacturing technology needs; and (3) facilitating the formation of information-sharing networks and strategic production alliances. The Delaware Manufacturing Alliance is affiliated with the Delaware Development Office.
The NIST MEP is a nationwide network of locally managed centers in all 50 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 indicate that MEP's network of manufacturing extension services is fostering significant improvements in manufacturing and business performance. 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 products, the productivity of their workers, their customers' satisfaction, their profits and their ability to meet production schedules.
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.