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NIST To Fund Tennessee Manufacturing Extension Partnership

The Clinton Administration today announced that the Commerce Department's National Institute of Standards and Technology will provide $1.8 million in funding for the Tennessee Manufacturing Extension Partnership located in Nashville. The TMEP 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 Tennessee 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."

The TMEP has been an affiliate of the NIST MEP since 1994. Federal funding for its activities initially came from the Defense Department's Technology Reinvestment Project.

In addition to the $1.8 million provided by NIST, the State of Tennessee Economic and Community Development Department, the University of Tennessee and others contribute an equal amount. 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. The Pennsylvania center as well as 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 TMEP 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 to serve the region.

Building on existing programs, TMEP provides one stop shopping" to address technology problems of Tennessee's small and medium-sized manufacturers and to promote industrial competitiveness for economic growth. Established in 1994, the program is a partnership between the 31-year-old University of Tennessee Center for Industrial Services and the Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development.

The state is heavily dependent on manufacturing and is home to approximately 8,000 manufacturing firms 95 percent are small or medium in size employing some 515,000 workers. TMEP provides special attention to three major industry sectors within the state: automotive (vehicle manufacturers and their suppliers), metal working and defense.

To facilitate delivery of assistance, the program is divided into three geographic divisions with field offices in Memphis, Millington, Jackson, Nashville, Cookeville, Chattanooga, Knoxville, and Blountsville. Each office is staffed with field agents who market the services to local manufacturing firms, field consultants who serve as TMEP's technical project managers, and consultants who specialize in the key industry sectors, produce/process design, waste reduction, electronic commerce and technical training.

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.

Released November 7, 1996, Updated November 27, 2017