ORLANDO, FL-National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) President John Engler praised the contribution of Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP) to the U.S. economy and said NAM “strongly supports adequate funding for the MEP.”

The MEP is a nationwide network of not-for-profit centers in nearly 350 locations nationwide that provides small and medium-sized manufacturers with the services they need to succeed. The centers, serving all 50 states and Puerto Rico, are linked together through the Department of Commerce’s National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST). The centers are funded by federal, state and private sources. Each center works directly with manufacturers to provide them with expertise and services ranging from process improvements and worker training to business practices and applications of advanced technology.

“In fiscal year 2005, you can credit the MEP with helping to create or save more than 53,000 jobs and generating more than $6 billion in sale,” Engler told the National MEP-NIST Annual Conference. “By some accounts, the MEP stimulated more than $2.2 billion in economic growth-contributing to an innovative, investment-rich manufacturing sector.”

Engler says the Bush administration’s budget request of $46 million for the MEP in fiscal 2008, which was funded for $104.6 million this year, “falls short-especially in a time of increased global competition.” Engler, along with more than 100 U.S. legislators, insists on increasing MEP funding to $113 million in 2008.