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25 Years of Supporting U.S. Manufacturing

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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.

Given its benefits to strengthening our economy, the Obama administration and Commerce Department are committed to supporting American manufacturing, including through programs like MEP. 

Since 1988, MEP has worked with nearly 76,000 manufacturers, leading to $79 billion in sales and $12.8 billion in savings. MEP’s work has helped create more than 636,000 jobs, which have also generated more than $20 billion in total investment in U.S. manufacturing. 

We’re proud of the role our MEP centers play in helping manufacturers across the country reach their potential. The centers offer a variety of services, from innovation strategies to process improvements to green manufacturing. These services lead to real improvements in companies’ bottom lines and future prospects. Check out our database of MEP-assisted success stories, which shows how MEP has helped strengthen or grow hundreds of companies of all sizes nationwide. 

In 2012, NIST MEP joined forces with the Fabricators & Manufacturers Association, International and the National Association of Manufacturers to co-produce the launch of the second annual Manufacturing Day. In its first two years, this nationwide effort has given tens of thousands of students, educators, job seekers and others the chance to visit manufacturing facilities to get a first-hand look at the high-tech, high-potential world of manufacturing today. 

After 25 years, MEP is going strong and still innovating, developing new programs and services to help manufacturers grow and succeed in the 21st century economy. We look forward to many more years of MEP centers helping U.S. manufacturers build a strong future for their businesses, workers and the nation. 

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Glad to see jobs coming back to the US

I see firsthand that US companies and others are "onshoring" manufacturing back to the US. American quality, price structure, and ease of doing business are crucial. More and more, companies who moved away are now seeing that and coming back. Marsha Sompayrac