The U.S. Department of Commerce's National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) has awarded a total of $50 million in emergency funding to support U.S. manufacturers in their response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The funding will allow the NIST Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP) centers in all 50 states and Puerto Rico to offer services that help manufacturers increase production of products that support the response to the pandemic, such as personal protective equipment (PPE), and to reach new suppliers or markets, recover from workforce and supply chain interruptions, and achieve greater resilience.
This administration is proud to support manufacturers across the nation as they face this unprecedented health and economic situation. The funding provided through MEP will also help to reinvigorate the economy and, in particular, improve the competitiveness of our small and medium-sized manufacturers and those in rural locations."
Wilbur Ross, Secretary of Commerce
The funding represents a one-time allocation from the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act signed by President Donald Trump on March 27, 2020. Under the act, MEP centers may accept this funding without the private contribution match normally required by the MEP program. The centers may use these awards for new initiatives to help manufacturers increase production of PPE or establish new supplier relationships, or more broadly to support a national manufacturing recovery from the crisis.
"I am exceptionally proud of America's Manufacturing Extension Partnership, and deeply grateful to the NIST team for getting this funding allocated in record time," said Under Secretary of Commerce for Standards and Technology and NIST Director Walter G. Copan. "MEP continues to deliver for U.S. manufacturing, strengthening the resilience of our economy and supply chains."
The funding awards to the 51 MEP centers range from $91,000 to $6.1 million and have performance periods ending on or before September 30, 2021. Due to the critical need for this funding, all awards were made within 90 days of the passage of the CARES Act.
The MEP program was created in 1988 by the Omnibus Trade and Competitiveness Act to improve the competitiveness of U.S.-based manufacturing by making manufacturing technologies, processes and services more accessible to small and medium-sized manufacturers. The MEP centers provide expertise to help manufacturers reduce costs, create new products, develop the next-generation workforce, find new markets and achieve business success. In 2019, MEP centers interacted with 28,213 manufacturers, leading to $15.7 billion in sales, $1.5 billion in cost savings, $4.5 billion in new client investments, and assistance with the creation or retention of 114,650 jobs.