SNOWE, LIEBERMAN CRITICIZE HOUSE APPROPRIATIONS
CUT OF PROGRAM TO HELP SMALL MANUFACTURERS
WASHINGTON, DC - U.S. Senators Olympia Snowe (R-Maine) and Joe Lieberman (D-Conn.), co-chairs of the Senate Task Force on Manufacturing, today criticized the House Committee on Appropriations for cutting the Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP) program to $39.6 million for fiscal 2004 -- approximately two-thirds less than the previous year's appropriation of $105.9 million. As the economy struggles and unemployment rates rise to a nine-year high, the nationís 348,000 small manufacturers and over 11 million workers need MEP support to keep high performing manufacturers and the jobs they produce in the United States.
"The Manufacturing Extension Partnership works. For more than a decade, MEP has helped small manufacturers compete and expand their horizons. Because of the importance of these employers to our economy, we believe this is an even more crucial time to fund this program. The decision today by the House Appropriations Committee to cut the MEP leaves small manufacturers across the country without an important tool to remain competitive in the global economy," said Snowe and Lieberman.
The Senate has yet to consider the FY2004 Commerce, Justice and State Appropriations bill which includes the MEP budget. Snowe and Lieberman spearheaded Senate efforts to support the program. Over 50 Senators signed a letter to ask Senate appropriators to provide $110 million in funding in fiscal year 2004. The Administration's budget request reduced funding to just $12.6 million.
"Small manufacturers employ 11.3 million Americans, and account for 55 percent of the value of all manufactured goods in our economy," the Senators said. "Moreover, these companies are often suppliers to larger corporations, so investments in MEP have a ripple effect that maintains the supply chain for consumer and defense goods."
Since its inception, MEP has conducted more than 149,000 projects with small manufacturers throughout the country to help increase sales and earnings, and reduce costs. A study by the U.S. Census Bureau found that MEP clients experience productivity gains more than four times greater than comparable firms. MEP clients report strong bottom-line impacts including over $636 million in new sales, $680 million in new investments and 25,500 retained or new jobs during fiscal year 2001.
Maine's Manufacturing Extension Partnership operates from six offices throughout the state. Each MEP center is a partnership involving federal, state and local governments; industry; educational institutions; and other sources of expertise, information, and funding support. In 2002, Maineís program helped 455 clients. Between 1995 and 2001, employers assisted by Maine MEP created or retained 990 jobs. In all, MEP estimates that there are more than 1,800 manufacturers throughout Maine which are eligible to benefit for services at its centers.
Connecticutís Manufacturing Extension Partnership has been managed since 1995 by CONNSTEP, Inc., a non-profit organization. This federally-funded MEP program has helped to develop the structure and tools necessary to reach out to the 5,800 small and medium sized manufacturers within the state. For 2001 and 2002, Connecticut manufacturers who worked directly with Connecticutís MEP reported more than $229 million in overall economic impact and1,094 jobs created or retained.