What is the Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP)?

The Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP) is a national network that offers business, services, and technical assistance to small and medium-sized manufacturers to help drive their productivity. Beginning in 1998, this public-private partnership has helped over 86,000 manufacturing companies, producing $96.4B in sales, $15.75B in cost savings, and has provided more than 797,994 jobs. Currently, MEP centers can be found in all 50 U.S. states as well as in Puerto Rico.

In the 1980s, U.S. manufacturers faced heavy competition from Japanese companies in industries such as consumer electronics and steel. “Made in America” products were associated with a negative perception of product quality, and innovation and manufacturing processes quickly became outdated. To circumvent and respond to these challenges, the Technology Competitiveness Act of 1988 was established by U.S. Senator Ernest “Fritz” Hollings, which became a part of the Omnibus Trade and Competitiveness Act that President Ronald Reagan signed into law.

After this law was instated, MEP offices opened in New York, Ohio, and South Carolina with the mission of distributing technical information. But as centers soon discovered, small and mid-size manufacturers did not want expensive or uncertified technologies, and the focus of the MEP system shifted to tailored expertise. Local and regional centers began to provide individualized consulting, assessments, and shop floor training. After figuring out what manufacturers were looking for, the number of centers expanded and MEP continued to progress to meet demand.
During the 1990s and well into the 21st century, U.S. manufacturers also began facing the challenge of offshore, low-cost manufacturing leading to job losses and a reduction of industrial capacity. In response, MEP strengthened its commitment to federal and state initiatives that would further advance American competitiveness. Today, MEP supports individual firms, industrial supply chains, manufacturing communities, and innovation ecosystems. Growth-related services also reinforce the portfolios of MEP centers.

For manufacturers in Ohio, working with the MEP system means having better access to commercialization, business growth, and global competitiveness. MEP services generally include entrepreneurial assistance, help with new product development, strategic planning, project management, and marketing and sales. On top of these services, MEPs also provide training in Lean, Six Sigma, workplace safety, and risk management.

As part of Ohio MEP, MAGNET: The Manufacturing Advocacy Growth Network is an organization which helps manufacturers grow and compete in Northeast Ohio by:

  • Supporting, educating, and champion manufacturing with the goal of transforming the regional economy into a global, powerful player
  • Providing world-class consulting services and subject-matter experts to assist manufacturers with their specific challenges
  • Delivering solutions to challenges in operations, employee engagement, talent pipeline, sales and marketing, product development, and process innovation

MAGNET was one of the first three piloted MEPs in America. From 2011 to 2016, they took on thousands of projects for hundreds of companies within their region. These projects helped generate over $260 million in new sales, more than $205 million in retained sales, 3,260 new or retained manufacturing jobs, $52.5 million in cost savings, and over $212 million in company investments.

Want to know more about MAGNET? Call Linda Barita at 216.391.7766 or email linda.barita@magnetwork.org for more details on how we can help your business grow through innovation.