Small and mid-size manufacturers in Kentucky and South Dakota have new resources to help them create and retain jobs, increase profits, and save time and money, thanks to funding from the National Institute of Standards and Technology's (NIST) Hollings Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP) program.
Following a competitive process, NIST MEP has awarded cooperative agreements to support two MEP centers that will join a nationwide network that provides a variety of services, from innovation strategies to process improvements to advice on green manufacturing. The MEP includes more than 400 centers and field offices nationwide.
South Dakota will host its first MEP center in 10 years, with an award of $400,000 to South Dakota Manufacturing and Technology Solutions (manufacturers there previously were served by the North Dakota center). The center will be based at the University of South Dakota in Vermillion, and be part of its Small Business Development Center network. South Dakota is home to nearly 1,100 manufacturers, 92 percent of which have fewer than 100 employees, and only eight employ more than 500.
Advantage Kentucky Alliance, Bowling Green, Ky., will receive $488,456 from NIST MEP to operate an MEP center housed at Western Kentucky University Center for Research and Development. The center partners include several Kentucky colleges and universities, along with Kentucky Innovation Network, Kentucky Association of Manufacturers, Kentucky Association for Economic Development, Greater Owensboro Economic Development Corp. and the Bowling Green Chamber of Commerce. More than 1,800 of the state's manufacturers have fewer than 500 employees.
MEP centers are public-private partnerships that receive a portion of their annual budgets from NIST MEP, and the rest from other nonfederal agencies or organizations. The agreements are for one year, but can be renewed based on performance, priority of the need for the service, legislative authority and availability of funds. NIST will provide 50 percent of the centers' total funding for the first year, and subsequent renewals will require increasingly larger cost-shares from other sources. Centers that operate for five or more years receive one-third of their annual funding from NIST.
As a public-private partnership, MEP delivers a high return on investment to taxpayers. For every one dollar of federal investment, the MEP generates nearly $20 in new sales growth and $20 in new client investment. This translates into $2.5 billion in new sales annually. For every $2,100 of federal investment, MEP creates or retains one manufacturing job.
The new MEP centers are now setting up operations.