Michigan pilot program will boost business and job growth in economically-distressed communities, serve as model for possible future efforts on behalf of small and medium-sized businesses.
Washington, DC—The U.S. Commerce Department today announced the award of a $350,000 grant to the Michigan Industrial Technology Institute (MITI), Ann Arbor, Mich., for a technology-based economic development project to boost the growth of Michigan's small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs).
The grant—awarded jointly by two Commerce agencies, the Economic Development Administration (EDA) and the Technology Administration's National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST)—will be used by MITI to assess the technology needs of the state's rural and inner-city small and medium-sized manufacturers and to provide them with technical assistance. The Michigan pilot program is expected to serve as a model for possible future efforts on behalf of SMEs.
"Deficiencies in resources related to manufacturing technology have contributed to the slow growth of many SMEs," said Commerce Secretary William M. Daley. "SMEs account for most of the job creation in the manufacturing sector, and form the economic foundation for many regional and urban-area economies," Daley said. "This project supports the Clinton administration's commitment to promoting business expansion and job growth in economically-distressed communities," Daley said.
Factors contributing to the slow growth of SMEs include a depleted number of skilled, reliable and available workers; little access to technology, both regionally and among disadvantaged population segments; the lack of a research and development base linking technology development activity with the local business community; and the lack of a cost-efficient and effective means of providing small manufacturers with technical assistance.
"Small and medium-sized manufacturers owned by minorities, or located in largely rural or inner-city locations, have little access to the latest technology," said Assistant Secretary for Economic Development Phillip A. Singerman.
"This program will study ways in which technical assistance can best be provided to these businesses, so that they may grow and contribute to the creation of jobs and the sustained economic vitality of the communities in which they are based," Singerman said.
"This is an excellent example of how the federal and state governments can partner, harnessing technology and technical assistance for our economic development," said Acting Under Secretary for Technology Gary Bachula. "The project is a nice fit under the U.S. Innovation Partnership effort, which brings together federal and state agencies to jointly address technology and innovation issues."
"Through the NIST Manufacturing Extension Partnership, we are already teaming with Michigan's economic development agencies," said NIST Director Ray Kammer. "This expanded effort will zero in on a key segment of smaller companies who are not being reached today. It makes sense to leverage the efforts of EDA, NIST and Michigan in this pilot effort," Kammer said.
The grant is a product of EDA's Local Technical Assistance Program, which is designed to assist in solving specific economic development problems, respond to development opportunities, and build and expand local organizational capacity in distressed areas.