US Newswire

Snowe, Lieberman Call For $106 Million to Assist Small Manufacturers; Cite Job Losses in Manufacturing Due to Record Trade Imbalance With China

1/12/2006 4:23:00 PM


To: National and Business Desks

Contact: Chris Chichester (Snowe), 202-228-5843, or Catherine Ribeiro, (Lieberman), 202-224-0957

WASHINGTON, Jan. 12 /U.S. Newswire/ -- Sen. Olympia J. Snowe (R-Maine) and Sen. Joseph Lieberman (D-Conn.), co-chairs of the Senate Task Force on Manufacturing, today urged the Bush Administration to include $106 million in the upcoming Federal budget proposal to fund the Manufacturing Extension Partnership Program (MEP). The MEP is a nationwide network of not-for-profit centers in over 400 locations across the country, whose sole purpose is to help small and medium-sized manufacturers implement the most advanced manufacturing technologies in order to compete with low wage countries such as China. The centers, which serve all 50 states and Puerto Rico, are linked together through the Department of Commerce's National Institute of Standards and Technology. This program has proven successful in helping small manufacturers create jobs, increase sales and make new investments.

In a letter to Office of Management and Budget Director Joshua B. Bolten, Sen. Snowe and Sen. Lieberman wrote:

"As the Co-Chairs of the Senate Taskforce on Manufacturing, we would like to express our strong and continued support for the Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP) Program. We urge you to support a funding level of $106 million in the President's Fiscal Year (FY) 2007 budget request, the same level appropriated by Congress for FY 2006. Each year, MEP Centers located around the country help thousands of small manufacturers solve problems, increase productivity and create or retain high-skilled American jobs.

"For FY 2006, Congress provided $106 million for the MEP. Continuing this funding level is critical to ensuring the delivery of MEP services, which help sustain and strengthen our nation's manufacturing industry. Remaining competitive in the manufacturing sector is vital to our continued economic growth. Small and mid-sized manufacturers are the engines that increase productivity and spur job growth. These manufacturers employ more than 11 million Americans and account for approximately 55 percent of the value of all manufactured goods in the American economy. The MEP program helps these manufacturers modernize their facilities and production processes, thus enabling them to compete in the demanding global marketplace, maintain jobs in America, and continue driving a higher standard of living in the U.S.

"The MEP is an extremely successful program. MEP clients experience productivity gains more than four times greater than comparable firms that did not receive MEP assistance. This is significant because productivity growth is closely correlated with earnings and standard of living. Wages, profits, and ultimately our standard of living all raise as these businesses become more efficient. MEP clients are increasing sales, hiring more workers in the U.S., and investing in domestic plant modernization. According to the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) FY 2004 MEP Client-Reported Impacts, MEP clients experienced increased or retained sales of over $4.1 billion, nearly 50,315 new or retained jobs, $686 million in cost savings, and $912 million invested in new private sector investment as a result of MEP projects.

"Higher productivity also contributes to our competitive advantage with respect to lower wage countries such as China. Our nation has lost too many jobs as domestic production has moved offshore, often to manufacture products for sale in the United States. Our substantial trade imbalance with countries like China reflects this trend. Half of the products we now import from China are from high-tech, high-skilled industries. MEP services help our small manufacturers maintain good jobs and advanced production capacity in our country.

"MEP started as a bipartisan Congressional initiative in 1988 and over the last decade has received strong support from each Congress as well as from Presidents Reagan, Bush, and Clinton. We respectfully ask that you include $106 million for the MEP program in the President's FY 2007 Budget."

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