The Clinton Administration today announced that the Commerce Department's National Institute of Standards and Technology will provide $1.5 million in funding for the Oklahoma Alliance for Manufacturing Excellence Inc. located in Tulsa. The Alliance is part of the NIST Manufacturing Extension Partnership, which offers technical and business assistance to small and medium-sized manufacturers.
President Clinton said, Cost-sharing is just one indication of the true partnership that is taking place at the Oklahoma 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 $1.5 million provided by NIST, the Oklahoma Center for the Advancement of Science and Technology and private-sector partners contribute an equal amount.(The Alliance has been an affiliate of the NIST MEP since 1994.)
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 Oklahoma center, MEP affiliates in all 50 states and Puerto Rico are delivering much-needed services to this important sector of our economy," he said.
NIST's decision to continue funding the Alliance followed a thorough review in which the MEP center exhibited knowledge of the numbers, types and needs of the region's smaller manufacturers as well as an understanding of the region's technology and business resources and technology delivery mechanisms. The center also developed a management and financial plan.
Oklahoma manufacturers employ nearly 160,000 people, accounting for 16 percent of private-sector employment and 21 percent of the private-sector payroll. More than 3,300 manufacturers about 85 percent of the state total employ fewer than 50 people.
The Alliance is a regionally focused technical assistance program tailored to the needs of local manufacturers. Broker/Agents and applications engineers from Oklahoma State University work directly with companies, helping them to help themselves by diagnosing problems and locating appropriate sources of technical expertise and resources to achieve effective, affordable solutions. Services concentrate on modernization challenges and needs in five priority areas singled out for attention by the state's smaller manufacturers: identifying, adopting, and applying technology; market research and planning; finances; human resource management and organization; and interfirm collaboration.
Building on existing resources, Broker/Agents draw on both public and private sources of assistance, including Alliance industry specialists, who gather and disseminate sector-specific market and technological information. These specialists track and interpret developments relevant to the state's major manufacturing industries, including aviation/aerospace, electronics, plastics and advanced materials, and food processing. Nine regional partnerships made up of local training, education and economic development organizations provide facilities and partial support for the system's Broker/Agents.
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. In recent interviews, 548 small manufacturers reported the following improvements or changes to their business performance as a result of assistance from MEP centers: 586 jobs created, 822 jobs retained, almost $21 million in higher sales, $4.4 million in labor and material cost savings, almost $12 million in capital investment and $8.1 million in lower inventory.
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.