Manufacturing Extension Partnership
Each center is a partnership between the federal government and a variety of public or private entities, including state, university, and nonprofit organizations. This diverse network includes centers in all 50 states and Puerto Rico, and has a total of more than 440 service locations and over 1,200 field staff serving as trusted business advisors and technical experts for small and mid-size manufacturers.
MEP is part of the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), a U.S. Department of Commerce agency that supports industry through a variety of research and measurement efforts.
How it All Began
In 1987 and 1988, Congress passed and President George H. W. Bush signed several pieces of legislation that were inspired by growing concerns about the competitiveness of U.S. manufacturing in the global marketplace. One of those pieces of legislation renamed the National Bureau of Standards (NBS) as the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) and established what would ultimately become MEP—the future Hollings Manufacturing Extension Partnership program.
The original concept envisioned between 10 and 25 regional centers to cover the country. From 1993 to 1995, with the help of the Department of Defense’s Technology Reinvestment Project, the number of extension centers grew to 44. From 1989 until 1996, the program’s principal emphasis was on establishing a national network—making sure there was a center within reach of all the nation’s manufacturers and linking those centers so they could learn from and teach one another about how best to work with manufacturers.
More than 26 years after its founding, MEP continues to innovate, meeting the challenge of developing new programs, services, and partnerships to help manufacturers flourish in the 21st century.
Delivering Value for Manufacturers
MEP’s strategic objective is to create value for all manufacturers, with a particular focus on small and mid-sized enterprises (SMEs). SMEs represent nearly 99 percent of manufacturing firms in the U.S. and form the essential fabric of the U.S. manufacturing infrastructure. MEP is able to provide this support to individual manufacturers through its national network of local centers made up of teams of experts and business professionals. MEP centers have helped thousands of manufacturers increase profits, create or maintain jobs, save costs, and establish a foundation for long-term business growth and productivity.
MEP delivers a high return on investment to taxpayers—and huge benefits to clients. For every dollar of federal investment, MEP clients generate nearly $19 in new sales, which translates into $2.5 billion annually. And for every $2,001 of federal investment, MEP creates or retains one U.S. manufacturing job. Since 1988, MEP has worked with nearly 80,000 manufacturers, leading to $88 billion in sales and $14 billion in cost savings, and it has helped create more than 729,000 jobs.
MEP Centers don’t just provide training and consulting on a given topic and then leave the manufacturer on their own. They stay engaged in the implementation of the enabling technologies, processes or knowledge because experience has shown that that brings the most success. Centers tailor services to small and mid-sized manufacturers’ most critical needs, ranging from process improvement and workforce development to business practices, including supply chain integration, innovation, and technology transfer.
Collaborating with Partners to Make a Difference
MEP’s foundation is its partnerships, helping centers serve as hubs for manufacturers, connecting them with government agencies, trade associations, universities and research laboratories, state and federal initiatives, and a host of other resources to help them realize goals.
Through its collaborations at the federal, state, and local level, MEP puts manufacturers in position to develop new products and customers, expand into global markets, adopt new technology, restore production, and more. And because of its direct contact with manufacturers, MEP serves as a valuable bridge to other organizations that share a passion for enhancing the manufacturing community.
Over the years, the MEP system has worked with the departments of Agriculture (USDA), Commerce (DOC), Defense (DOD), Energy (DOE), Health and Human Services (HHS), Homeland Security (DHS), Labor (DOL), State and Transportation (DOT), as well as the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the National Science Foundation (NSF), and the Small Business Administration (SBA). These efforts sometimes take the form of coordination, like the Interagency Network of Enterprise Assistance Providers (INEAP) and Business USA (formerly CommerceConnect); sometimes involve joint field operations, like the Economy, Energy and Environment (E3) effort, the Green Suppliers Network (GSN), ExporTech and the Workforce Innovation in Regional Economic Development (WIRED); and sometimes involve joint solicitations, like the Energy Efficient Buildings Hub (EEB Hub), the Advanced Manufacturing Jobs and Innovation Accelerator Challenge (AMJIAC) and Make It in America.
Manufacturing Day: A Nationwide, Grassroots Movement
One of MEP’s most successful recent partnerships has been the national co-producer team supporting Manufacturing Day (MFG Day). Started in 2012, MFG Day is an annual event that occurs on the first Friday of October to showcase the potential of modern manufacturing and foster interest in manufacturing careers. All across the country, organizations show the public what manufacturing really looks like through open houses for students, parents, and community members. MFG Day leads to thousands of articles, TV segments, and interviews; participation from public officials; and proclamations across the country—including one from the President of the United States. In just three years, MFG Day has resulted in more than 1,600 manufacturing plant tours and events with an estimated 400,000+ attending. This year, MFG Day will take place on October 2. To get involved, visit www.mfgday.com
To explore ways to work with your local MEP center, call 1-800-MEP-4MFG for a MEP field agent nearest you, or use the Interactive Map on www.nist.gov/mep. For additional information on the national program, including more than 1,000 success stories, visit the MEP website or follow on social media, including Facebook and Twitter.
Founded in 1901 and now part of the U.S. Department of Commerce, NIST is one of the nation’s oldest physical science laboratories. Congress established the agency to remove a major handicap to U.S. industrial competitiveness at the time—a second-rate measurement infrastructure that lagged behind the capabilities of the United Kingdom, Germany, and other economic rivals. Today, NIST measurements support the smallest of technologies—nanoscale devices so tiny that tens of thousands can fit on the end of a single human hair—to the largest and most complex of human-made creations, from earthquake-resistant skyscrapers to wide-body jetliners to global communication networks. We invite you to explore our web site to learn about our current projects, to find out how you can work with us, or to make use of our products and services.
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