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Letter to Chair Barbara Mikulski and Ranking Member Richard Shelby Senate Committee on Appropriations Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice, Science and Related Agencies

Letter to Chair Barbara Mikulski and Ranking Member Richard Shelby Senate Committee on Appropriations Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice, Science and Related Agencies

Lieberman, Snowe, Kohl Lead Group Of Nearly Fifty Senators Calling For Funding Of Vital Manufacturing Assitance Program in FY 2011 Appropriations Bill

U.S. Senators Joe Lieberman (ID-Conn.) and Olympia J. Snowe (R-Maine), Co-Chairs of the Senate Task Force on Manufacturing, and Senator Herb Kohl (D-Wisc.) yesterday requested that the Fiscal Year 2011 Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies Appropriations bill include $129.8 million in funding for the Hollings Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP) program, the same level as President Barack Obama's budget request. Senators Lieberman, Snowe and Kohl were joined by 45 other senators in making this request.

"Providing this critical funding to assist small and medium-sized manufacturers in Connecticut and throughout the country will help them compete in our global economy and create much-needed and high-quality jobs for American workers," said Senator Lieberman.

"Responsible for helping to create or retain nearly 53,000 jobs in Fiscal Year 2009 alone, the MEP enables our nation's small- and medium-sized manufacturers to improve productivity and compete in the global marketplace," Senator Snowe said. "At a time when our economy is mired in the deepest and longest recession since World War II, the MEP program and its job-generating returns are a sensible use of government resources."

"Job creation is a top priority for many of us and at a time when jobs are scarce, it's essential to fund programs like the MEP to help small businesses and manufacturers navigate the current economy. MEP has helped many employers in Wisconsin and this funding will continue the hard work that has begun," Kohl said.

The MEP is a nationwide network of not-for-profit centers in nearly 400 locations in all 50 states and Puerto Rico, whose sole purpose is to provide small- and medium-sized manufacturers with the help they need in implementing the most advanced manufacturing technologies and processes to succeed as the country competes with low wage countries such as China and India. The centers are linked together through the Department of Commerce's National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST).

The requested funding for the MEP in FY 2011 -- $5 million over FY 2010 -- is critical to the sustainability of the nation's manufacturing sector. The United States shed more than 1 million manufacturing jobs in 2009, and has lost nearly 2.2 million manufacturing jobs since the onset of the recession in December 2007. Despite these losses, manufacturing still represents approximately 12 percent of GDP.

The text of the letter sent to Senate Committee on Appropriations Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice, Science and Related Agencies Chair Barbara Mikulski and Ranking Member Richard Shelby is as follows:

Dear Chairman Mikulski and Ranking Member Shelby:

Thank you for your support of the Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP) program in the Fiscal Year 2010 Omnibus Appropriations bill. We are writing to express our support for the program, and respectfully request that you include $129.7 million -- the amount included in the President's budget -- for the MEP in the Fiscal Year 2011 Commerce, Justice, Science and Related Agencies Appropriations bill.

The MEP is the only public-private program dedicated to providing technical support and services to small and medium-sized manufacturers. The MEP is a nationwide network of proven resources that enables manufacturers to compete globally, supports greater supply chain integration, and provides access to information, training, and technologies that improve efficiency, productivity, and profitability.

A $129.7 million appropriation for the MEP in Fiscal Year 2011 will allow the existing MEP Center network to continue to create jobs and respond to future challenges and opportunities in the manufacturing sector. Demand for MEP services is greater than ever, but state governments are facing budget shortfalls and cutting back the amount they provide to existing MEP centers, which are in need of these scarce funds to provide critical resources, serve new and existing clients, and create job growth.

The MEP program's well-documented impact is substantial. In Fiscal Year 2009 alone (based on services provided in 2008), MEP projects with small and medium-sized manufacturers created or retained 52,948 jobs, generated more than $9.1 billion in sales, and provided cost savings of more than $1.4 billion.

At a time when economic recovery is our national priority, the MEP continues to be a wise investment. We urge you to provide $129.7 million to and through the existing MEP center network for Fiscal Year 2011, and thank you for your consideration of this request.

Sincerely,

Senators Lieberman, Snowe, Kohl, Baucus, Bingaman, Bond, Boxer, Brown, Burris, Cantwell, Cardin, Casey, Chambliss, Conrad, Cornyn, Crapo, Dodd, Dorgan, Feingold, Franken, Gillibrand, Harkin, Hatch, Inhofe, Johanns, Kaufman, Kerry, Klobuchar, Lautenberg, Leahy, Levin, Menendez, Merkley, Reed, Roberts, Sanders, Schumer, Shaheen, Specter, Stabenow, Tester, Mark Udall, Tom Udall, Vitter, Warner, Webb, Whitehouse, Wyden


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