The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) announced today that it is soliciting proposals to establish two new Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP) centers in South Dakota and Kentucky. NIST has $1 million in funding to support the centers, which would join the existing network of more than 400 MEP centers and field offices in place nationwide and in Puerto Rico. The centers primarily help small- and medium-sized manufacturers enhance their productivity, innovative capacity, technological performance and global competitiveness.
MEP staff serve as trusted business advisers, focusing on solving manufacturers’ challenges and identifying opportunities for growth in five critical areas: technology acceleration, supplier development, sustainability, workforce and continuous improvement. MEP delivers a high return on investment to taxpayers—for every one dollar of federal investment, MEP generates $32 in new sales growth. For every $1,570 of federal investment, MEP helps to create or retain one manufacturing job.
NIST anticipates funding one proposal for an MEP Center in South Dakota at up to $400,000 for the first year and one for a center in Kentucky at up to $600,000 for the first year. Each center must identify a non-federal cost share of at least 50 percent of the total project cost for the first year of operation. Any renewal funding of an award will require non-federal cost sharing that increases to a maximum of two-thirds of the center’s budget at year five and beyond.
Manufacturing extension services are provided by using the most cost effective, local, leveraged resources through the coordinated efforts of a regionally based MEP center and local technology resources. The management and operational structure of each MEP center is based on the characteristics of the manufacturers in the region and locally available resources with demonstrated experience working with manufacturers.
U.S.-based nonprofit institutions or organizations, including universities, state and local governments and existing MEP centers are eligible to submit a proposal. An eligible organization may work individually or include proposed subawards or contracts with others in a project proposal, effectively forming a team. All proposals must be received no later than 5 pm Eastern time on Monday, April 30, 2012.
Additional information on the application process is available in the notice of Federal Funding Opportunity posted at Grants.gov (www.grants.gov) under Funding Opportunity Number 2012-NIST-MEP-SD-AND-KY-01 and the Federal Register notice of available funding at www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/FR-2012-03-01/pdf/2012-4959.pdf. NIST MEP will hold an information webinar for organizations considering applying to this opportunity on March 19, 2012 at 2 pm EST. More information is available on the NIST MEP Web site www.nist.gov/mep.