GAITHERSBURG, Md. — Today, the U.S. Department of Commerce’s National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) is announcing cooperative agreement awards totaling nearly $19.8 million to four organizations to operate Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP) Centers in Kentucky, Nebraska, Rhode Island and South Dakota. The MEP Centers will be operated by the four awardees, the University of Louisville Research Foundation, the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, the University of Rhode Island Research Foundation, and South Dakota’s Lake Area Technical College, and will provide services to small and medium-sized manufacturers in their states.
“These MEP Centers in Kentucky, Nebraska, Rhode Island and South Dakota help manufacturers address challenges and leverage opportunities in the critical areas of supply chain, workforce, technology innovation and much more,” said NIST Associate Director for Innovation and Industry Services Mojdeh Bahar. Among other things, Bahar said, “the centers will use the new Job Quality Toolkit, which is rooted in the Baldrige Excellence Framework, to provide guidance on expanding opportunities for high-quality jobs.”
NIST’s Hollings Manufacturing Extension Partnership program strengthens U.S. manufacturing by supporting 51 centers across the 50 states and Puerto Rico. Through this program, more than 1,400 manufacturing experts provide hands-on technical expertise that addresses the critical needs of manufacturers in their states.
The total anticipated funding over five years to each awardee is:
Awardees will sign a cooperative agreement for an initial performance period of up to five years and must meet a cost-share requirement. The awardees in Nebraska and Rhode Island have been operating existing MEP Centers for nearly 10 consecutive years, while the awardees in Kentucky and South Dakota are new to the MEP National Network of centers.
This funding opportunity, announced in January, was open to nonprofit organizations; institutions of higher learning; state, U.S. territory, local and tribal governments; and existing MEP Centers that have received financial assistance for 10 consecutive years and are in good standing, as determined by the U.S. Secretary of Commerce.
MEP center awards are recompeted every 10 years, with awards lasting for up to 10 years, subject to availability of federal funds and the good standing of the applicant.
For every dollar of federal investment in fiscal year 2021, the MEP Centers in these four states generated more than $20 in new sales growth and $25 in new client investments. This translated into $275 million in new and retained sales. And during that same time period, every $1,143 of federal investment created or retained one manufacturing job.