ARCHIVED  November 1, 1997

CSU ends oversight of MAMTC

BOULDER — A dispute over the structure of the Mid-America Manufacturing Technology Center has caused state oversight of the program to shift from Colorado State University to the University of Colorado at Boulder.
CU took over as Colorado affiliate for the Overland Park, Kan.-based program after CSU sought changes in how the program was run. One complaint centered on CSU˜s assertion that Colorado funds were being controlled out of Kansas. A MAMTC official, however, denies that any Colorado funds ever left this state in support of MAMTC.
MAMTC — pronounced MAM-TEC — is one of 60 centers sponsored nationwide by the National Institute of Standards and Technology˜s Manufacturing Extension Partnership. MAMTC provides manufacturers in Colorado, Wyoming, Kansas and Missouri with advice and assistance on business and technical operations.
CU took over as Colorado˜s MAMTC affiliate under a one-year extension of the program, which will be administered through the CU Business Advancement Center under director Karen Eye and the Rocky Mountain Trade Adjustment Assistance Center under director Eddie Hag.
Eye declined to comment on any dispute between CSU and MAMTC. She said she˜s concentrating on securing support for the program from a variety of entities around the state.
"We really feel that it˜s important that we have a Manufacturing Extension Partnership program here," she said.
CSU had served as Colorado affiliate for MAMTC for three years — since its inception in the state — during which the university paid $2.9 million for MAMTC˜s operations, both in cash and in-kind contributions, said Wade Troxell, former executive director of MAMTC at CSU. CSU˜s affiliation was allowed to lapse at the end of the third one-year contract.
In CSU˜s last year of operating MAMTC, the organization had a budget of $1.4 million, almost $1 million of which was provided by the federal government and the rest by CSU, not counting in-kind contributions, Troxell said. CSU also organized $1.7 million worth of manufacturing-improvement projects from industry throughout the state over the three years, a far higher percentage than the national average, Troxell added.
He said CSU had a list of about 10 issues that MAMTC needed to address. A main issue, however, was that state funds went to MAMTC˜s headquarters in Kansas, leaving Colorado with little oversight as to how the funds were spent, Troxell said.
Troxell said that the state Constitution prohibits transfer of state funds outside the state "without some sort of reciprocal benefit."
"Our interpretation was that some of the policies of MAMTC were not in line with policies that a state institution should be running by," Troxell said. "We made an issue of that, and it wasn˜t rectified."
Troxell said that, essentially, CSU "had to put up state dollars that went to Kansas in order to get federal dollars."
He added that some of the funds "went to pay bonuses for MAMTC corporate officers in Kansas."
"Not true," said Marianne Hudson, vice president for marketing for MAMTC in Overland Park. "There were no CSU funds that were coming here. Zero."
She said MAMTC in Kansas operates using a percentage of federal funds, not funds paid by CSU.
But Troxell said that CSU˜s contract with MAMTC points to CSU funds "co-mingled in Kansas."
"They could never provide accounting of where the money went," he said. "I can˜t comment on clever accounting."
Jud Harper, vice president of research and information technology at CSU, said that MAMTC "had their own way of operating things in terms of employment bonuses and the like to their employees. That definitely did lead to some contension between the two of us."
Hudson said that of the $1.7 million in corporate contracts generated by CSU, $1.4 million was paid to CSU faculty for projects, with the rest going into a reserve fund. That $300,000, plus an additional $50,000, have been committed by MAMTC to keep the Colorado operation going through next June, Hudson said.
Troxell said CSU was "essentially given an ultimatum" that it abide by MAMTC˜s policies or withdraw as an affiliate.
A newsletter for the CU Business Advancement Center states that MAMTC provided funds for the program to continue for one year "to allow Colorado organizations time to obtain ongoing state funding support for the program," the newsletter stated.
Troxell said that˜s essentially "trying to put a smile on a frown."
"When you lay all this stuff out on the table, it˜s not a good deal for Colorado, and it˜s only limping along right now due to past revenues from company projects," he said.
He said the program continues to suffer from the same issues that caused CSU to reevaluate its participation in the first place.
"There˜s no state control today," he said.
CU has stated its intention to collaborate with various state organizations in the program, including the Governor˜s Office of Business Development, the Colorado Advanced Technology Institute, the community-college system, Small Business Development Centers and universities "in developing the resource and support base needed by the state˜s small manufacturing companies."
John Dill, director of economic development for the state, said that, so far, all indications are that MAMTC is worth continuing. He said he has two priorities, first to maintain some level of MAMTC service within the state for the near term, then to develop a plan with government agencies, universities, community colleges and the private sector to fund it in the future.
"We are only at the beginning stages of that process," Dill said. He added that questions about Colorado funds going out-of-state are "never black and white."
He said that with a "dynamic economy," some state funds are bound to go out of state.
"Clearly, the main issue is the net benefit of the program," he said.
But support from at least one state organization will not include financing, at least for the next year. CATI executive director Phillips Bradford said his organization will not provide financing for MAMTC as it˜s currently structured. But he left the door open for financing in the future if changes are made.
"There is no plan to fund this project from CATI in the next fiscal year," Bradford said. "Frankly, it was not regarded as a very successful program at CATI."
But, he added: "We certainly haven˜t locked it out of consideration" if CU changes certain aspects of the program.
Prior to CSU˜s ending of its affiliation with MAMTC, the university had responded to a NIST request for proposals for new state manufacturing centers, an act that MAMTC regarded as "a shot across the bow," Troxell said.
But although CSU˜s application was not approved, the university has since created its own center not affiliated with NIST. The Colorado Manufacturing Extension Center acts as an outreach program, complementing CSU˜s existing Manufacturing Excellence Center, a resource base for 41 university laboratories and centers. Troxell serves as head of both centers.
"Basically, we˜re doing the same thing [as MAMTC]," Troxell said. "We˜re interested in serving manufacturers, and we˜re continuing to do that."
CSU˜s Harper said that CMEC makes more sense for Colorado than having an intervening organization in Kansas. He noted that MAMTC is calling for more state matching funds than it had previously and that there is substantial regulatory burdens involved in "an extremely complicated reporting system."
MAMTC˜s efforts to secure state funding may face competition from CSU˜s attempts to secure funds for its center.
"We believe that we can do this in a more effective, cost-effective and operationally effective manner," Harper said.
Added Troxell: "MAMTC, as far as I˜m concerned, is water under the bridge."

BOULDER — A dispute over the structure of the Mid-America Manufacturing Technology Center has caused state oversight of the program to shift from Colorado State University to the University of Colorado at Boulder.
CU took over as Colorado affiliate for the Overland Park, Kan.-based program after CSU sought changes in how the program was run. One complaint centered on CSU˜s assertion that Colorado funds were being controlled out of Kansas. A MAMTC official, however, denies that any Colorado funds ever left this state in support of MAMTC.
MAMTC — pronounced MAM-TEC — is one of 60 centers sponsored nationwide by…

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