The U.S. Commerce Department's National Institute of Standards and Technology's (NIST) will award $27 million to organizations in nine states to operate centers that help manufacturers innovate, compete and grow. The new awards are part of a multiyear effort to update funding for the Hollings Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP), which provides a wide range of services to small and medium-size manufacturers through centers in every state and Puerto Rico.
"There's no question the MEP program has helped make thousands of manufacturers stronger," said Under Secretary of Commerce for Standards and Technology and NIST Director Willie E. May. "These new agreements will allow the centers to provide increased support and reach new customers."
The awards will go to organizations in Alaska, Idaho, Illinois, Minnesota, New Jersey, New York, Oklahoma, Washington and West Virginia following an open competition announced in March 2015; two remaining awards are still in process. The announced funding is for the first 15 months of the five-year agreements. Continued funding is subject to the availability of annual appropriations and successful annual reviews.
"These new agreements will improve our processes and help the centers better align with local economic strategies," said MEP Director Carroll Thomas. "They will also open up new opportunities to allow the centers to serve new customers."
The following organizations will sign cooperative agreements to operate centers in their states:
Proposals were reviewed by government and independent experts and evaluated against a number of criteria, including demonstration of a thorough understanding of market needs and how proposed service offerings would meet those needs. The reviewers also looked at the proposed business models, performance measurements and metrics, partnership potential, staff qualifications and program management, as well as financial and non-federal cost-share plans. The new agreement reduces the centers' cost-share burden by reducing the amount of required matching funds from non-federal sources.
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. Read about some of MEP's successes on its website.
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. *This release was updated 9/21/2015 to correct the name of the Illinois Manufacturing Excellence Center and its headquarter location in Peoria, Ill.