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Blog Category: MEP

Making U.S. Manufacturing Stronger

Making U.S. Manufacturing Stronger

Guest blog post by Phillip Singerman, Associate Director for Innovation and Industry Services at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST)

During his visit to Cleveland, Ohio, today, President Obama highlighted increased investment in a unique program that makes sure small and medium-size U.S. manufactures have the support they need to innovate, grow and succeed.

The president visited the Manufacturing Advocacy and Growth Network (MAGNET), one of 60 centers across the country in the National Institute of Standards and Technology’s (NIST) Hollings Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP).  MAGNET is one of the Ohio MEP affiliates located at Cleveland State University. These centers have helped manufacturers such as Ohio-based Wright Materials Research and Heather Moore Jewelry make improvements that led to the hiring of new staff, sped delivery of their products and generated new sales.

As a new report released by the White House (which was supported by our colleagues at the Economics and Statistics Administration) finds that small and medium-size companies like these form the backbone of America’s manufacturing supply chains and employ nearly half of all U.S. manufacturing workers.

There are many success stories in MEP’s 26-year history that demonstrate the benefits of investing in these manufacturers. And we plan to support many more. MEP has issued a Federal Funding Opportunity for non-profit organizations to operate centers in Alaska, Idaho, Illinois, Minnesota, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Oklahoma, Utah, Washington, West Virginia and Wisconsin. This is the second round of competitions in a multiyear effort to update MEP’s funding structure and will strengthen the network. We announced the first competition awardees in February 2015.

Commerce's NIST Awards $26 Million to Support Manufacturing in 10 States

Commerce's NIST Awards $26 Million to Support Manufacturing in 10 States

The U.S. Commerce Department’s National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) today announced the award of new cooperative agreements to 10 nonprofit organizations and universities to manage Hollings Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP) centers. NIST’s MEP program helps small- and mid-size manufacturers create and retain jobs, increase profits and save time and money. In an open competition, the existing MEP centers in Colorado, Connecticut, Indiana, Michigan, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Oregon, Tennessee, Texas and Virginia, were selected to receive a total of $26 million in federal funding, an increase of about $10 million or nearly 60 percent. The funding will allow the centers to reach new customers and offer new services.

“We are excited to award new agreements that bring increased funding levels to better meet the needs of manufacturers in these 10 states,” said Acting Under Secretary of Commerce for Standards and Technology and Acting NIST Director Willie May. “These awards will allow the centers to help more manufacturers reach their goals in growth and innovation, which will have a positive impact on both their communities and the U.S. economy.”

In August 2014, NIST announced a competition for the centers in these 10 states as the first step in a multi-year effort to update MEP’s funding structure to better match resources with needs. In March 2014, the Government Accountability Office recommended that MEP update its distribution of funds, which were allocated according to the award each center received when it was first established. The original awards to these states were made more than 10 years ago, and the MEP investment in terms of dollars per manufacturing establishment was below its national average, making them the most underfunded of MEP’s 60 centers.

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 cooperative agreements are for five years, subject to the availability of annual appropriations and successful annual reviews.

The Benefits of IMCP

A US Navy welder works at the Puget Sound Naval Shipyard. Photo courtesy US Navy

Guest Blog by Sarah Lee, Principal Economic Development Manager, Puget Sound Regional Council

Washington State brought in $7 million in IMCP-aligned federal agency funds just months after receiving one of the “manufacturing community” designations from the U.S. Department of Commerce. That’s a pretty shining endorsement of the Investing in Manufacturing Communities Partnership (IMCP) program, right? But the truth is Washington State began reaping the benefits of the program even before we submitted our application. The value of this program is about even more than funding.

Our IMCP application was based on the Washington Aerospace Strategy, already developed by the Governor’s Office of Aerospace and the Washington Aerospace Partnership, so we had a head start. The application process pushed us to dig deeper, to prioritize projects and firm up commitments. We reached out to more stakeholders than we had before, which meant we uncovered great programs and projects and discovered partners we didn’t even know we had.

For example, we hadn’t fully explored what our local Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP) could do for us. MEP is a National Institute of Standards and Technology program that helps small and medium manufacturers create and retain jobs, increase profits, and save time and money. With a median size of 98 employees, our state’s aerospace suppliers definitely qualify for MEP programs. As a result, two of the six catalytic investments outlined in our IMCP plan are projects developed in partnership with our MEP. We have already secured funds for one of those projects, and the MEP relationship continues to open new doors. 

Puerto Rico MBDA Business Center’s MED Week Event Helps Local Entrepreneurs, Businesses Expand Their Opportunities

Isabella Cascarano, U.S. Embassy of Dominican Republic,  Jose Burgos USEAC, of Puerto Rico, James W. Brewster, Jr., U.S. Ambassador to the Dominican Republic, Gabriela Morales, MBDA Business Development Specialist, Teresa Berrios, Puerto Rico MBDA Business Center's Director, and Alejandra Y. Castillo, MBDA's National Director, ready to meet local entrepreneurs during the Puerto Rico MBDA Business Center's MED Week Conference in San Juan's Condado Plaza Hotel, Jan. 30.

Puerto Rican businesses and entrepreneurs looking for opportunities that drive growth found them during Puerto Rico’s MBDA Business Center’s Minority Enterprise Development Week (MED Week) conference held on January 30th in San Juan’s Condado Plaza Hotel.

The MED Week in Puerto Rico continued the celebration of the Minority Business Development Agency’s (MBDA) 45th Anniversary.  It was also another opportunity to amplify our continued efforts in Puerto Rico to assist minority-owned firms grow in size and scale, and diversify into the industries of tomorrow.

To that end, this past year, we engaged the Puerto Rico MBDA Business Center on several important business endeavors.  One of them was ensuring that minority firms in Puerto Rico were well positioned to export, and that’s precisely why we invited James W. Brewster, Jr., U.S. Ambassador to the Dominican Republic to be the keynote speaker at this year’s MED Week event.  As a critical trade partner, we wanted to talk about the exporting opportunities that exist in the Dominican Republic, but also throughout all the Caribbean nations.

U.S. Manufacturing Attracts Foreign Investment

U.S. Manufacturing Attracts Foreign Investment

By Mark Schmit, National Accounts Manager, National Institute of Standards and Technology, Hollings Manufacturing Extension Partnership

The United States is an attractive destination for foreign investment dollars for a variety of reasons, including a large economy with diverse consumer markets, a skilled labor force (thanks to community colleges with skill-development missions as well as research universities) and a predictable and stable regulatory system. These reasons and more explain why the U.S. has been the world’s largest recipient of foreign direct investment (FDI) since 2006 according to an October 2013 White House report, Foreign Direct Investment in the U.S.

Working for NIST’s Hollings Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP), I wasn’t surprised to learn that the manufacturing industry is the largest beneficiary of FDI in the United States, accounting for more than one-third of that investment, according to data from the Commerce Department’s Bureau of Economic Analysis. “Made in America” is, after all, a de facto stamp of approval the world over. We are a manufacturer’s dream!

And investments in manufacturing have powerful multiplier effects on the U.S. economy. Every $1 spent in manufacturing generates $1.35 in additional economic activity. Since 1988, MEP has been committed to strengthening U.S. manufacturing and individual manufacturers, contributing to the growth of well-paying jobs, the development of dynamic manufacturing communities, and the enhancement of American innovation and global competitiveness. 

MEP delivers its own 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. Last year, MEP centers served more than 30,000 manufacturing clients—a subset of which are foreign-owned. For example, since 2012, MEP centers worked on 900 projects with 322 manufacturers in the U.S. that have ownership ties to other countries. These projects helped those companies create and retain more than $700 million dollars in sales, save about $77 million and create or retain more than 6,000 U.S. jobs.

NIST Awards $2.5 Million in Grants to MEP Centers for Pilot Business-to-Business Networks

 NIST Awards $2.5 Million in Grants to MEP Centers for Pilot Business-to-Business Networks

The U.S. Commerce Department’s National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) has awarded $2.5 million in grants to 10 Hollings Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP) centers to pilot online regional business-to-business network projects. The networks will help match buyers and sellers of technologies or products and services in support of small and midsize manufacturers.

“The Commerce Department is committed to keeping our small and medium-size manufacturers globally competitive,” said U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker. “The Manufacturing Extension Partnership grants announced today are an example of our efforts to invest in cutting-edge technologies through public-private collaboration.”

Each awardee will receive a total of $250,000 for a two-year project. The pilots are designed to be scalable and interoperable to help determine if they might be expanded into a national network or a series of regional ones. The networks are expected to include technologies available at federal laboratories and universities and, therefore, enhance the framework for collaboration between the private and public sectors through the nationwide network of MEP centers.

“One of NIST-MEP’s goals is to improve the productivity of our domestic supply chains,” said Acting Under Secretary of Commerce for Standards and Technology and Acting NIST Director Willie May. “These projects will demonstrate a variety of innovative approaches to doing that by connecting small firms with larger corporations.”

The awardees and their projects are:

Oregon MEP (Portland, Ore.)
The Northwest Connectory Business-to-Business Network (NWB2B) will bring together Oregon MEP, Impact Washington (State of Washington MEP), the Pacific Northwest Defense Coalitionand partnering trade associations, manufacturers, suppliers and other public-sector organizations in a regional consortium that will develop and maintain the pilot network. The business-to-business exchange tool they create will help manufacturers scout for local customers and suppliers, solicit bids, promote and seek emerging technologies and other related activities. The NWB2B project will build upon the existing NW Connectory, an online buyer-supplier network for Pacific Northwest manufacturing and technology companies that already contains vetted, full-text searchable profiles of more than 4,700 companies located in the Northwest.

Catalyst Connection (Pittsburgh, Pa.)
The Pennsylvania Network for Open Innovation will use an open innovation business model that instills a culture of innovation in small and medium-size manufacturing enterprises, increases their speed to market with more promising innovations, and thus, accelerates their business growth. It will leverage existing strong relationships and resources during the initiative, and the model will provide a basis for nationwide replication.

MEP Launches Competition to Fund Manufacturing Centers in 10 States

Making an Impact on U.S. Manufacturing

The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) today opened a competition to award new cooperative funding agreements for its Hollings Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP) centers in 10 states. The competition is the first in a multiyear effort to update the funding structure to better match needs with resources in MEP's network of 60 centers. The MEP centers help small and mid-sized U.S. manufacturers create and retain jobs, increase profits, and save time and money.

The current competition will fund awards for centers in Colorado, Connecticut, Indiana, Michigan, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Oregon, Tennessee, Texas and Virginia. The awards will provide half of each center's first-year operating funds, which the centers must match with funding from nonfederal sources. MEP anticipates awarding a total of nearly $26 million for the 10 centers.

Established in 1988, MEP is a public-private partnership that delivers a high return on investment to taxpayers. For every one dollar of federal investment, MEP helps businesses generate nearly $19 in new sales growth and $21 in new client investment. This translates into $2.2 billion in new sales annually. For every $1,978 of federal investment, MEP helps create or retain one manufacturing job.

Each MEP center works directly with area manufacturers to provide expertise and services tailored to their most critical needs, ranging from process improvement and workforce development to business practices and technology transfer. Through local and national resources, MEP centers have helped thousands of manufacturers reinvent themselves, increase profits, create jobs and establish a foundation for long-term business growth and productivity.

U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker Announces Fiscal Year 2015 Budget Request

U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker today released the fiscal year 2015 budget request for the U.S. Department of Commerce. The FY15 budget request supports and builds on President Obama’s vision for creating economic opportunity for all Americans, and includes critical funding for key Commerce priorities: promoting trade and investment, spurring innovation, and fueling our data-driven economy. The $8.8 billion FY15 budget request directly aligns with the Department’s “Open for Business Agenda,” which reflects Commerce's role as the voice of business and the Obama Administration’s focus on economic growth and job creation. 

The Commerce Department’s fiscal year 2015 budget reflects the Department's role as the voice of business in the Administration by making critical investments in our long-term growth and competitiveness. The budget prioritizes high-tech manufacturing and innovation, U.S. trade and investment, infrastructure, skills training, unleashing government data and gathering and acting on environmental intelligence, while also cutting red tape to help businesses grow. 

The FY 2015 Department of Commerce budget includes key investments in the following areas:

Promoting Trade and Investment: To promote exports and greater foreign investment in the U.S., the budget includes $497 million for the International Trade Administration (ITA), an eight percent increase over the 2014 enacted level. Funding for ITA includes $15 million to accelerate operations of the Interagency Trade Enforcement Center (ITEC), an interagency effort to address unfair trade practices and barriers to boost U.S. exports, and $20 million to expand SelectUSA, which promotes re-shoring and actively brings job-creating investment to the United States from around the world.

Spurring Innovation: To foster a more innovative U.S. economy, the budget will increase regional and national capacity for innovative manufacturing, be the principal defender and champion of the digital economy, continue to support research and development (R&D) that leads to transformative changes in technology, and promote intellectual property policy that supports innovation. 

Fueling a Data-Driven Economy: Data powers the 21st century economy, and Commerce Department data touches every American and informs business decisions every day.

Gathering and Acting on Environmental Intelligence: The Department’s environment agenda aims to help communities and businesses prepare for and prosper in a changing environment. The budget provides $2 billion to fully fund the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA’s) next generation of weather satellites, which are critical to its ability to provide accurate information to decision-makers throughout the government and private sector, as well as time-sensitive weather forecasts and warnings that help protect lives and property.

Opportunity, Growth, and Security Initiative: The President is also proposing the Opportunity, Growth, and Security Initiative, which will be fully paid for with a balanced package of spending and tax reforms. It will demonstrate how, by simply changing a few tax provisions and reforming spending programs, Congress could achieve significant economic goals in research, education, manufacturing and skills training. The initiative is consistent with the model established in Murray-Ryan, providing equal dollar-for-dollar increases above the current law discretionary spending caps for both defense and non-defense. 

More information can be found at the Commerce Department's press release U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker Announces Fiscal Year 2015 Budget Request. 

25 Years of Supporting U.S. Manufacturing

Logo for MEP

Guest blog post by Dr. Patrick Gallagher, NIST Director and Under Secretary of Commerce for Standards and Technology

The year’s end is a natural time to look back on past accomplishments. This year, we’re reflecting on 25 successful years of the National Institute of Standards and Technology’s Holling’s Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP). MEP is a public-private partnership that helps mostly small and mid-size manufacturers enhance productivity and technological performance, and strengthen their global competitiveness. Through a network of more than 400 centers in every state and Puerto Rico, about 1,300 MEP experts help make these businesses—and the U.S. economy—stronger.

Manufacturing in the U.S. has seen some significant changes during the past two and a half decades. Today’s manufacturing is robotics, 3-D printing, and nanotechnology. And today’s manufacturing produces everything from large-scale industrial equipment, to medical devices, to handcrafted, consumable products we use every day. Our latest data show that for every dollar spent in manufacturing, another $1.48 is aded to the economy – the highest multiplier of any sector. Manufacturing also supports good jobs—with starting salaries 38 percent higher than other sectors.

Innovation is crucial for ensuring the U.S. remains competitive in the global economy–and manufacturing is a key indicator of our nation’s innovative capacity. A recent MIT study points out that innovation occurs not only at the point of invention, but at every stage of product development and delivery, which is why it is so important that we help companies “Make it in America.” The Commerce Department’s recently unveiled “Open for Business Agenda” also prioritizes supporting American manufacturing at all stages of the product life cycle.

NIST Visit to Chicago Spotlights Manufacturing Success

On Tuesday this week, Under Secretary of Commerce for Standards and Technology and Director of the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) Patrick Gallagher was in Chicago to visit two manufacturing companies to learn more about the best practices and challenges confronting U.S. manufacturers.

“Having the opportunity to hear directly from manufacturers and see their operations firsthand is invaluable to those of us working to support and increase the competitiveness of American manufacturing,” said Gallagher.

The trip was coordinated by the Illinois Manufacturing Extension Center (IMEC), the Illinois center for the NIST Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP) program. “NIST is a critical resource for advanced manufacturing competitiveness,” said David Boulay, president of IMEC. “We were pleased to show the director the great prospects for American manufacturing success.”

Gallagher, along with representatives from the City of Chicago including Housing and Economic Development Commissioner Andrew Mooney, toured PortionPac Corporation. The company is a sustainability-focused manufacturer of highly concentrated, pre-measured cleaning products. President Burt Klein and other company leaders got the chance to showcase their manufacturing processes. With its commitment to workforce excellence, recognized by INC. magazine’s 2010 Winning Workplace, and its values of innovation, environmental leadership and social responsibility, the company highlights the keys to success for the next generation manufacturer.