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From Workforce 2021 Guide

Smart Systems Create Workforce Solutions

The Smart Talent program is just one way the national MEP network is helping the nation’s manufacturers grow business and people at the same time.

Map courtesy of NIST/MEPM

Looking for that single conduit to achieve better operations and a better trained workforce? The Hollings Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP) program based at the U.S. Department of Commerce’s National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) could be the most valuable, but frequently overlooked, tool in your toolbox.

The organization is based in Gaithersburg, Maryland. The overall MEP network consists of MEP Centers in all 50 states and Puerto Rico, with more than 1,400 advisors and experts at approximately 375 MEP service locations.

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 the creation or retention of 114,650 jobs. A recent study by Summit Consulting and the W.E. Upjohn Institute for Employment Research found the MEP program generates a substantial economic and financial return of nearly 13.4:1 for the $140 million invested in FY 2019 by the federal government. The study also finds that total employment in the U.S. was nearly 217,000 higher, personal income was $14 billion higher and GDP was $22.9 billion larger because of MEP Center projects.

In the Works

How do workforce skills figure in? Recent analysis by MEP Chief Economist Ken Voytek examined state-level manufacturing GDP growth and found a group of nine states (see map) showing growth of 3% or greater (twice the national average) from 2010 to 2019: Michigan, Montana, New Hampshire, Arizona, South Dakota, Oregon, Nevada, South Carolina and Florida. Two of those — Montana and Oregon — have implemented Smart Talent, a methodology launched in 2015 to help small and medium-sized manufacturers address workforce challenges with systematic approaches to recruitment, hiring, onboarding and early career development as the workforce ages.

MEP Division Chief for Network Learning and Strategic Competitions Mary Ann Pacell explored the Oregon program in a June 2020 blog, noting that the Oregon Manufacturing Extension Partnership (OMEP) has used the methodology with 95 organizations via engagements ranging from 16 weeks to 18 months.

“It has responded to client needs by expanding the program to become an integrated holistic approach called Workforce Solutions, which includes managerial training, organizational development and executive leadership,” she writes. Meanwhile the Smart Talent program has been adopted by MEPs in Hawaii, Montana, Tennessee and Puerto Rico. Among the elements OMEP introduced:

  • Expanding the prospect pool by rewriting job descriptions to be more attractive to tech-oriented candidates and broadening recruiting outlets.
  • Creating a learning culture in the organization.
  • Moving the burden of onboard training from team leaders to the staff, which creates more of a knowledge-sharing culture and repeatable process.
  • Using proven adult learning approaches for more structured on-the-job training, which provided more clear career paths.

A recent report from the Information Technology & Innovation Foundation called on Congress to create a new federal-state national economic development partnership — and expanding the MEP program is one of four major parts of the organization’s vision for helping every state contribute to increased U.S. competitiveness.

“The NIST Manufacturing Extension Program (MEP) is a model federal-state economic development partnership,” wrote ITIF President Robert Atkinson. “Yet despite being a highly successful program, MEP funding has steadily declined as a share of GDP — and funding is significantly lower (as a share of GDP) than similar programs in competitor nations like Japan and Germany. As such, Congress should increase funding for MEP over the next few years from the current level of around $140 million to at least $600 million. And it should charge MEP with focusing more on helping U.S. manufacturers adopt ‘smart manufacturing systems.’

Every MEP has resources and training connections at the ready. So here, by arrangement with NIST and MEP, we present a full directory of all 51 MEPs.

Manufacturing Extension Partnership Network Directory

Alabama Technology Network (ATN)
Director: Keith Phillips
135 South Union St., Suite 441
Montgomery, AL 36104
+1 (334) 293-4673
Contact Email:

Alaska Manufacturing Extension
Partnership Center
Director: Alyssa Rodrigues
1901 Bragaw St., Suite 199, Anchorage, AK 99508
+1 (907) 786-0412
Contact Email:

Arizona Manufacturing Extension Partnership
(Arizona MEP)
Director: David Garafano
100 N. 7th Ave., Suite 400, Phoenix, AZ 85007
+1 (602) 845-1200
Contact Email:

Arkansas Manufacturing Solutions
Director: Daniel Curtis
900 West Capitol Ave., Suite 400
Little Rock, AR 72201
+1 (501) 683-4411
Contact Email:

California Manufacturing Technology Consulting
Director: James Watson
690 Knox St., Suite 200, Torrance, CA 90502
+1 (310) 263-3060
Contact Email:

Manufacturer’s Edge
Director: Tom Bugnitz
c/o Geotech 2650 E. 40th Ave., Denver, CO 80205
+1 (303) 592-4087
Contact Email:

Director: Bonnie Del Conte
350 Church St., 3rd Floor, Hartford, CT 06103
+1 (860) 529-5120 x3204
Contact Email:

Delaware Manufacturing Extension Partnership
Director: Rustyn Stoops
400 Stanton-Christiana Rd., Suite A-158
Newark, DE 19713
+1 (302) 283-3131
Contact Email:

Director: Kevin Carr
800 North Magnolia Ave, Suite 1850
Orlando, FL 32803
+1 (407) 450-7206
Contact Email:

Georgia Manufacturing Extension Partnership
Director: Tim Israel
Georgia Tech, 75 5th St. NW, Suite 3010
Atlanta, GA 30308
+1 (404) 894-8270
Contact Email:

Director: Wayne Inouye
521 Ala Moana Blvd., Suite 255, Honolulu, HI 96813
+1 (808) 539-3652
Contact Email:

Director: Steve Hatten
Boise State University, 1910 University Dr.
Boise, ID 83725
+1 (208) 426-3767
Contact Email:

Illinois Manufacturing Excellence Center (IMEC)
Director: David Boulay
1501 W. Bradley Ave., Bradley University
Peoria, IL 61625
+1 (888) 806-4632
Contact Email:

Purdue Manufacturing Extension Partnership
Director: David Snow
8628 E. 116th St., Suite 200, Fishers, IN 46038
+1 (800) 877-5182
Contact Email:

Center for Industrial Research and Service
Director: Michael O’Donnell
Iowa State University, 1805 Collaboration Place, Suite 2300, Ames, IA 50010
+1 (515) 294-3420
Contact Email:

Kansas Manufacturing Solutions
Director: Tiffany Stovall
10550 Barkley St., Suite 116,
Overland Park, KS 66212
+1 (913) 649-4333
Contact Email:

Advantage Kentucky Alliance (AKA)
Director: Scott Broughton
2413 Nashville Rd., B8, Suite 310, WKU Center for Research & Development, Bowling Green, KY 42101
+1 (270) 282-7103
Contact Email:

Manufacturing Extension Partnership of
Louisiana (MEPOL)
Director: Dr. René Cintrón
265 South Foster Dr., Baton Rouge, LA 70806
+1 (337) 394-2762
Contact Email:

Maine Manufacturing Extension Partnership
Director: Larry Robinson
87 Winthrop St., Augusta, ME 04330
+1 (207) 623-0680
Contact Email:

Maryland MEP
Director: Mike Kelleher
8894 Stanford Blvd, Suite 304, Columbia, MD 21045
+1 (443) 343-0085
Contact Email:

Massachusetts Manufacturing Extension
Partnership (MassMEP)
Director: Kimberley Ingalls
100 Grove St., Suite 108, Worcester, MA 01605
+1 (508) 831-7020
Contact Email:

Michigan Manufacturing Technology Center
Director: Mike Coast
45501 Helm St., Plymouth, MI 48170
+1 (734) 451-4200
Contact Email:

Enterprise Minnesota
Director: John Connelly
2100 Summer St., Suite 150, Minneapolis, MN 55413
+1 (612) 373-2900

Mississippi Manufacturers Association -
Manufacturing Extension Partnership
Director: James Williams
720 North President, Jackson, MS 39202
+1 (601) 948-1222
Contact Email:

Missouri Enterprise
Director: Dusty Cruise
900 Innovation Dr., Suite 300, Rolla, MO 65401
+1 (573) 341-0117
Contact Email:

Montana Manufacturing Extension Center (MMEC)
Director: Paddy Fleming
P.O. Box 174255, Montana State University,
2310 University Way, Bldg 2, Suite 1,
Bozeman, MT 59717
+1 (406) 994-3812
Contact Email:

Nebraska Manufacturing Extension Partnership
(Nebraska MEP)
Director: Matthew Allmand
University of Nebraska-Lincoln, 3 Agricultural Communications Building, 3625 East Campus Loop, South Lincoln, NE 68583
+1 (402) 472-5993
Contact Email:

Nevada Industry Excellence (NVIE)
Director: Mark Anderson
UNR Mail Stop 406, Reno, NV 89557
+1 (775) 784-1935
Contact Email:

New Hampshire
New Hampshire Manufacturing Extension
Partnership (NHMEP)
Director: Zenagui Brahim
172 Pembroke Rd., Concord, NH 03301
+1 (603) 226-3200
Contact Email:

New Jersey
New Jersey Manufacturing Extension Program
Director: John W. Kennedy
2 Ridgedale Ave., Suite 305, Cedar Knolls, NJ 07927
+1 (973) 998-9801
Contact Email:

New Mexico
New Mexico Manufacturing Extension
Partnership (New Mexico MEP)
Director: Jennifer Sinsabaugh
8600 San Mateo Blvd. NE, Suite 200
Albuquerque, NM 87113
+1 (505) 262-0921
Contact Email:

New York
New York Manufacturing Extension Partnership
Director: Matt Watson
625 Broadway ESD, Division of Science, Technology & Innovation (NYSTAR), Albany, NY 12245
+1 (518) 292-5729
Contact Email:

North Carolina
North Carolina Manufacturing Extension
Partnership (NCMEP)
Director: Phillip Mintz
1005 Capability Dr., Research III Bldg., Suite 200
Raleigh, NC 27606
+1 (919) 513-6119
Contact Email:

North Dakota
Impact Dakota
Director: Tony Richards
1929 N. Washington St., Suite M,
Bismarck, ND 58501
+1 (866) 297-8250
Contact Email:

Ohio Manufacturing Extension Partnership
(Ohio MEP)
Director: Susan Foltz
77 South High St., 28th Fl., Columbus, OH 43215
+1 (614) 752-2587
Contact Email:

Oklahoma Manufacturing Alliance
Director: Dave Rowland
525 S. Main St., Suite 210, Tulsa, OK 74103
+1 (918) 592-0722
Contact Email:

Oregon Manufacturing Extension Partnership
Director: Aaron Fox
7650 SW Beveland St., Ste 170, Portland, OR 97223
+1 (503) 406-3770
Contact Email:

Pennsylvania Manufacturing Extension
Director: Rikki Riegner
One College Ave., DIF 32, Williamsport, PA 17701
+1 (570) 308-3312
Contact Email:

Puerto Rico
Puerto Rico Manufacturing Extension Inc.
Director: Migdalia Rosado
#268 Muñoz Rivera Ave., World Plaza Building, Suite 1002, Hato Rey, PR 00918
+1 (787) 756-0505
Contact Email:

Rhode Island
Polaris MEP
Director: Kathie Mahoney
75 Lower College Rd., Carlotti Admin. Building Kingston, RI 02881
+1 (401) 874-4807
Contact Email:

South Carolina
South Carolina Manufacturing Extension
Partnership (SCMEP)
Director: Chuck Spangler
250 Executive Center Dr., Suite 200
Greenville, SC 29615
+1 (803) 252-6976
Contact Email:

South Dakota
South Dakota Manufacturing and
Technology Solutions
Director: Don Cuperus
2329 N. Career Ave., Suite 106, Sioux Falls, SD 57107
+1 (605) 367-5757
Contact Email:

University of Tennessee Center for
Industrial Services (UT CIS)
Director: Dwaine Raper
193 Polk Ave., Suite C, Nashville, TN 37210
+1 (615) 532-8657
Contact Email:

Director: Mark Sessumes
202 E. Border St., Suite #323, Arlington, TX 76010
+1 (800) 625-4876
Contact Email:

University of Utah Manufacturing Extension
Partnership (UUMEP) Center
Director: Steven Black
100 South 1495 E., MEK 1121, Salt Lake City, UT 84112
+1 (801) 587-0713
Contact Email:

Vermont Manufacturing Extension Center (VMEC)
Director: Bob Zider
1540 VT Rt. 66, Suite 103, VT Tech Enterprise Center Randolph, VT 05060
+1 (802) 728-1432
Contact Email:

Director: Bill Donohue
32 Bridge St., Suite 200, Martinsville, VA 24112
+1 (276) 666-8890 x221
Contact Email:

Impact Washington
Director: Deloit R. Wolfe, Jr.
3303 Monte Villa Parkway, Suite 340,
Bothell, WA 98021
+1 (425) 438-1146
Contact Email:

West Virginia
West Virginia Manufacturing Extension
Partnership (WVMEP)
Acting Director: Staci Miller
West Virginia University Industrial Extension, 317 Mineral Resources Building, PO Box 6070, Morgantown, WV 26506
+1 (304) 293-6831
Contact Email:

Wisconsin Center for Manufacturing and
Productivity (WCMP)
Director: Buckley Brinkman
2601 Crossroads Dr., Suite 145, Madison, WI 53718
+1 (608) 729-4151
Contact Email:

Manufacturing Works
Director: Rocky Case
Department 3362, 1000 E. University Ave.
Laramie, WY 82071
+1 (307) 766-4811
Contact Email:

Adam Bruns
Editor in Chief of Site Selection magazine

Adam Bruns

Adam Bruns is editor in chief and head of publications for Site Selection, and before that has served as managing editor beginning in February 2002. In the course of reporting hundreds of stories for Site Selection, Adam has visited companies and communities around the globe. A St. Louis native who grew up in the Kansas City suburbs, Adam is a 1986 alumnus of Knox College, and resided in Chicago; Midcoast Maine; Savannah, Georgia; and Lexington, Kentucky, before settling in the Greater Atlanta community of Peachtree Corners, where he lives with his wife and daughter.


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