The Hollings Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP), a program of the U.S. Department of Commerce's National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), will fund a new center in Florida dedicated to helping the state's small and medium-size manufacturers innovate and grow.
The Manufacturers Association of Florida Center for Advanced Manufacturing Excellence (CAME) will operate the new center, called FloridaMakes, to offer manufacturers services that will help them develop new products and customers, expand into new markets, adopt new technologies and more. The center will join MEP's national network of 60 centers and more than 1,200 technical experts who help manufacturers solve their challenges and identify opportunities for growth.
"We're excited to have FloridaMakes join our efforts to help American manufacturers become more competitive and successful," said Acting Under Secretary of Commerce for Standards and Technology and Acting NIST Director Willie May. "Having these services available to Florida's manufacturers will have a positive impact on job growth and strengthen communities and the economy."
FloridaMakes will leverage a network of 12 industry-driven Regional Manufacturing Associations (RMAs) and together they will serve manufacturers state-wide. This collaborative structure will allow the center to take advantage of the economies of scale that the existing RMA networks provide. FloridaMakes will be headquartered in Tallahassee.
The award provides FloridaMakes with $3.5 million annually—half of the center's operating budget. MEP centers are public-private partnerships that receive a portion of their annual budgets from NIST MEP and the rest from nonfederal agencies or organizations and industry through fees for service. In a center's fourth year, the federal funding reduces to two-fifths of its budget. Centers that operate for five or more years receive one-third of their annual funding from NIST. The cooperative agreement with CAME may be renewed annually, contingent upon certain conditions, including successful annual reviews, compliance with the terms and conditions of the award and the availability of funds.
According to the National Association of Manufacturers, Florida's total manufacturing output was $39.6 billion in 2013. The state's nearly 12,000 manufacturers employ 321,900 workers, who earn an average annual compensation of about $70,000. The TechAmerica Foundation's 2012 Cyberstates report ranks Florida fifth in the nation for tech jobs, which include space and defense manufacturing. The report ranks Florida second in space and defense manufacturing employment with 14,900 jobs.
As a public-private partnership, MEP delivers a high return on investment to taxpayers. For every dollar of federal investment, MEP clients generate nearly $19 in new sales, which translates into $2.5 billion annually. And for every $2,001 of federal investment, MEP creates or retains one U.S. manufacturing job. Since 1988, MEP has worked with nearly 80,000 manufacturers, leading to $88 billion in sales and $14 billion in cost savings, and it has helped create more than 729,000 jobs.
As a non-regulatory agency of the U.S. Department of Commerce, NIST promotes U.S. innovation and industrial competitiveness by advancing measurement science, standards and technology in ways that enhance economic security and improve our quality of life. To learn more about NIST, visit www.nist.gov. To learn more about MEP, visit www.nist.gov/mep.