by Jon Wilson
Lincoln, Neb. —The Nebraska Manufacturing Extension Partnership at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln was awarded a cooperative agreement renewal from the U.S. Department of Commerce’s National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST). The award anticipates funding $3.9 million over a five-year period for the center to assist and promote manufacturing in Nebraska as part of the NIST’s Hollings Manufacturing Extension Partnership program.
“We’re grateful to NIST for recognizing the progress we are making in Nebraska,” says Matt Allmand, director of the Nebraska MEP. “Our state’s manufacturing sector has had many challenges over the past few years, particularly during the pandemic. But we received a lot of positive feedback from our clients for the assistance we’ve provided-from webinars to workshops, which have led to on-site employee training and consulting. It’s reassuring to many of our small to midsize companies that they are not alone-that there is a group and a network that can provide a wealth of best practices and processes to help them grow and thrive.”
The Nebraska MEP is part of the National Institute of Standards and Technology’s Hollings Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP) program. Residing within the U.S. Department of Commerce, MEP was created in 1988 with the intent of enhancing the productivity and technological performance of U.S. manufacturers. Today, the MEP program consists of 51 centers in every state and Puerto Rico with over 400 service locations and 1,300 technical experts working together to advance and strengthen U.S. manufacturing.
The Nebraska MEP works closely with the Food Processing Center, the College of Engineering and IANR, as well as third-party consultants to best serve the various needs of manufacturing clients. One example is a waste-reduction project performed for McCain Foods that helped retain over $800,000 in sales and 40 jobs through process modifications as well as $375,000 in labor, materials, and energy savings. ''We were aware of the Nebraska MEP’s positive reputation across the state,” said Shaun Guimond, Process Engineer for McCain. “And they delivered by providing expertise through the University of Nebraska’s College of Engineering to help us reduce our waste and keep our operation efficient so we could continue to thrive."
The Nebraska MEP’s announcement was made in conjunction with NIST awards to three other states. Awardees will sign a cooperative agreement for an initial performance period and must meet a cost-share requirement. Nebraska and Rhode Island have been operating existing MEP Centers for nearly 10 consecutive years, while the awardees in Kentucky and South Dakota are new to the MEP National Network of centers. The Nebraska MEP was first established at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln in 2014. This is the second grant renewal award for the center.
More on the Nebraska MEP at https://nemep.unl.edu