U.S. Secretary of Commerce William Daley has proclaimed 1999 as the Year of the Small Manufacturer in recognition of the enormous contribution small manufacturers make to the nation’s economy.
Daley said, "Small manufacturers are critical to the competitiveness of the entire manufacturing sector and are vital to the U.S. economy." He added, "We are proud that the Manufacturing Extension Partnership, a program of the Department’s National Institute of Standards and Technology, is playing a key role in helping these companies solve problems, increase productivity and achieve higher profits."
Started in 1989 with three centers, the MEP now is a nationwide network of over 400 manufacturing extension centers and field offices providing business and technical assistance to small manufacturers in all 50 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico.
Who does MEP assist? Here are a few facts about U.S. small manufacturers:
While small manufacturers are critical to the U.S. economy, they are less likely than larger firms to know about and implement technology, modern manufacturing processes and current business practices. Each MEP center works directly with area manufacturers to provide expertise and services tailored to their most critical needs, including process improvement and worker training. In 1999, MEP is placing particular emphasis on helping small manufacturers find and assess problems caused by the year 2000, or Y2K, date problem.
The U.S. Census Bureau surveyed 4,412 firms served by MEP centers in 1997. These companies reported an increase in sales of $236 million, a reduction of $31 million in inventory, and a savings of $24 million in labor and materials. They also created or retained 6,755 jobs and invested more than $193 million in modernization. They directly attribute these results to the assistance provided by the NIST manufacturing extension centers.
Throughout the Year of the Small Manufacturer, MEP and its nationwide network of centers will be celebrating the achievements of small manufacturers. To find information on these activities in the coming months, check out the MEP World Wide Web site at http://www.mep.nist.gov or call 1-800-MEP-4MFG (800-637-4634) to reach the nearest MEP center.
As a non-regulatory agency of the U.S. Department of Commerce's Technology Administration, NIST promotes economic growth by working with industry to develop and apply technology, measurements and standards through four partnerships: the Measurement and Standards Laboratories, the Advanced Technology Program, the Manufacturing Extension Partnership and the Baldrige National Quality Program.