Manufacturer’s Edge awarded $1.7M to be NIST MEP center

Manufacturer’s Edge, a statewide manufacturing assistance center based in Boulder, on Tuesday was awarded an increased contract worth nearly $1.7 million annually from the National Institute of Standards and Technology to continue to serve as the Manufacturing Extension Partnership center for Colorado.

Manufacturer’s Edge, formerly the Colorado Association of Manufacturing and Technology, has satellite offices in various cities throughout the state, including Fort Collins and Denver. The public-private partnership provides consulting, education services and training to help strengthen manufacturing in the state.

NIST has 60 MEP centers nationwide, including at least one in every state. Tuesday’s award for Manufacturer’s Edge was one of 10 NIST handed out to increase the MEP center funding, including in the states of Connecticut, Indiana, Michigan, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Oregon, Tennessee, Texas and Virginia. A total of $26 million in contracts was awarded, about a 60 percent increase for those 10 states combined.

The NIST funding helps the MEP centers assist small and midsize manufacturers create and retain jobs, increase profits and increase efficiency.

Manufacturer’s Edge has served as the MEP center for Colorado for nine years, receiving $655,000 per year. NIST last year offered the MEP centers in the 10 states the chances for increased funding if they terminated their old contracts and allowed NIST to open the process for any organization to apply to be the MEP center in their states. An announcement for NIST didn’t detail how many organizations applied.

As part of the NIST program, Manufacturer’s Edge must bring in enough revenue to match the NIST funding dollar-for-dollar for the first three years of the award. In the fourth year, the NIST funding reduces to 40 percent of a MEP center’s budget. After the fourth year, the federal funding can account for one-third of its budget.

For every $2,001 in federal investment, NIST said MEP centers create and retain one U.S. manufacturing job.

In addition to the increased annual funding, Manufacturer’s Edge was one of 10 MEP centers awarded $250,000 each from NIST to create a pilot program for a business-to-business network of manufacturers across the state. Manufacturer’s Edge is using that funding to create a searchable database of the state’s manufacturers that details what kind of services they offer to help companies connect on the services they need. The goal is to sign up 1,000 manufacturers by year’s end.