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Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Manufacturing Extension Partnership Program: An Overview

Wendy H. Schacht
Specialist in Science and Technology Policy

The Hollings Manufacturing Partnership (MEP) is a program of regional centers that assist smaller, U.S.-based manufacturing companies in identifying and adopting new technologies. Operating under the auspices of the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), centers in all 50 states and Puerto Rico provide technical and managerial assistance to firms. Federal funding is matched by non-federal sources. Existing resources in government, business, and academia are leveraged while the program endeavors to build on current state and local activities and industrial extension efforts. 

The MEP program has, at times, been included in the discussion surrounding termination of government programs that provide direct federal support for industry. Questions have been raised in congressional debate as to the appropriateness of government funding for this program when the technologies are available in the marketplace. Instead of the government picking "winners and losers," opponents argue, the marketplace should make decisions regarding firms worthy of investment. However, proponents of the program stress that no direct funding is available to companies through MEP and that assistance is technical, scientific, and/or managerial. The centers facilitate the adoption of new technologies that foster competition and promote innovation. As the 111th Congress continues to make budget decisions, support for manufacturing extension may be discussed in the context of the role of the federal government in facilitating research and technological advancement. 

Date of Report: June 2, 2010
Number of Pages: 10
Order Number: 97-104
Price: $29.95

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