As a share of GDP, the federal government invested 1.28 times more in the Manufacturing Extension Program in 1998 than it did in 2009. Japan, meanwhile, invests 30 times more as a share of its GDP in their manufacturing extension program.

The Hollings Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP) is a public-private partnership that assists small and medium sized U.S. manufacturers by placing innovations developed through research at federal laboratories, educational institutions, and corporations directly in the hands of U.S. manufacturers. Not only does MEP facilitate technology transfer to and uptake by SMEs, it helps SMEs learn R&D, innovation, and new product development skills that empowers them to commercialize promising technologies into innovative products. This enables SMEs to create high-skill, high-wage jobs in new fields and industrial sectors. MEP has a field staff of 1,300 trusted business advisors who work closely with state and local governments to deliver technical assistance in the most effective way. MEP delivers a big bang for the buck for taxpayers: every $1 of federal investment in MEP generates $32 of return in economic growth.

The loss of some 5.5 million manufacturing jobs and 75,000 factories over the last decade has been a contributing factor to the depth of the recession and barely measureable recovery. It is clear that we cannot truly revive our economy without revitalizing our manufacturing base. As competitors abroad increase their support programs for SME manufacturers and fund them robustly, it is imperative that the United States recognize the indispensible role the MEP manufacturing extension service has in supporting the U.S. SME manufacturing base at this critical time.