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Gearing Up: Manufacturing Extension Partnership Center Responses to the COVID-19 Pandemic

Man at the door of factory applying alcohol to the hands of the workers arriving to work
Credit: iStock/andresr

On January 29, 2021, the Center for Urban and Regional Studies (CURS) at The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill announced a new report, Gearing Up: MEP Center Responses to the COVID-19 Pandemic, documenting the wide range of support the Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP), a program under U.S. Department of Commerce’s National Institute of Standards and Technology, is delivering to U.S. manufacturers responding to the COVID-19 pandemic. The report details how, despite the pandemic’s profound impacts on manufacturing, MEP Centers are helping manufacturers safely operate and meet the nation’s critical needs for personal protective equipment (PPE).

A team at The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, led by CURS Interim Director Nichola Lowe, professor of city and regional planning, documented the wide range of MEP Center responses to the COVID-19 pandemic. Their report is based on the team’s research conducted during the fall of 2020.

Key findings include:

  • MEP Centers in 48 states provided new or expanded consulting services or performed needs surveys
  • MEP Centers in 42 states provided product and/or supplier matching services
  • MEP Centers in 31 states created return-to-work guides
  • MEP Centers in 29 states provided assistance with retooling to produce PPE
  • MEP Centers in 13 states assisted manufacturers with PPE product testing and development

For full research results, including profiles from all 50 states and Puerto Rico visit

Released April 7, 2021