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Gulf Coast MEP Centers Help Manufacturers Recover

ORLANDO, FL-The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) awarded grants totaling $4.5 million to five organizations affiliated with NIST's Hollings Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP) to assist manufacturers in Gulf Coast regions hard hit by last year's hurricanes.

"Smaller manufacturers are critical to the competitiveness of the entire manufacturing sector and to the health of the U.S. economy. This funding to MEP-affiliated centers in the Gulf Coast region will help manufacturers whose businesses were affected by last year's hurricanes recover and rebuild," said Roger Kilmer, director of NIST's MEP at the 2006 MEP National Conference in Orlando, FL, on May 23.

The funding is going to the Mississippi Technology Alliance and Manufacturing Extension Partnership of Louisiana ($2.2 million for a joint project), the Alabama Technology Network ($750,000), the Texas Manufacturing Assistance Center ($800,000) and the Florida Manufacturing Extension Partnership ($750,000).

A top priority for the five MEP centers is to help manufacturers find workers and restore operations to pre-

hurricane levels. Other goals are to help manufacturers locate and obtain

private-sector resources to help with facility reconstruction, provide financial and contingency planning, and incorporate technology and automation in the workplace. The centers will collaborate with each other and with numerous other partners, including universities and economic development agencies.

MEP is a nationwide network of resources transforming manufacturers to compete globally, supporting greater supply chain integration, and providing access to technology for improved productivity.

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