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October 23, 1998

Nearly 70,000 manufacturers received services from the Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP) from July 1995 through December 1997, according to a new report released by MEP.

Client reported impacts for projects closed from June 1996 to May 1997 increased for the short-term competitiveness indicators compiled by the program. These indicators include: sales ($187 million); labor savings ($8.9 million), material savings ($7.3 million), inventory savings ($25 million), client investment in modernization ($135 million); jobs created (2,095); and jobs retained (3,011).

The most recent data, covering the period of July-December 1997, shows that the top four industries served by the MEP are: industrial machinery (16%); fabricated metals (15%); electronics (9%); and rubber and plastics (8%). Technical assistance continues to be the primary activity offered by the program (61%); however, the training and education component has increased significantly (25%). The other major activity is conducting assessments (14%).

Centers are continuing to make progress to the MEP target of resources split equally between MEP, state and local governments, and fees for service. As of December 31, 1997, 41 percent of the program’s funding came from MEP, 32 percent from state and local organizations, 16 percent from fee for services, and 11 percent from in-kind contributions.

MEP has also released the findings of a report generated by a U.S. Innovation Partnership (USIP) working group. "The Future of the State-Federal Partnership in Manufacturing Extension: A Report of the Next Generation MEP Working Group" presents the conclusions of  senior technology advisors and executives of several state technology development organizations.

The working group’s chief recommendations include the following:

  • Strengthen state-based systems of manufacturing extension --- by viewing MEP as a national network that supports state-based assistance to firms; improving the quality of inter-center communications; focusing on quality of service, cross-center comparability, and dependability; undertaking pilot projects for joint center activities; and working with NIST to implement the MEP strategic plan.
  • Leverage the skills and resources of other organizations --- by building links to other providers of technology and business center services, and encouraging integration with state economic development efforts.
  • Develop support for stable funding --- in part by eliminating the sunset provision on MEP centers.

For more information on the working group’s report, contact Tom Unruh of the National Governor’s Association at 202/624-5300.