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Las Vegas, Nevada - As part of a multiyear effort to refresh its Hollings Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP) centers across the country, the U.S. Commerce Department's National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) has launched the fourth round of competitions to award new cooperative funding agreements for centers in 11 states.

The MEP centers provide a variety of customized technical services to primarily small and medium-sized manufacturers to help them increase profits, create jobs and establish a foundation for long-term business growth and productivity. NIST anticipates it will fund nearly $60 million over five years to organizations that will operate centers in Delaware, Hawaii, Iowa, Kansas, Maine, Mississippi, New Mexico, Nevada, North Dakota, South Carolina and Wyoming.

"This is the final round of a multiyear, nationwide process of open competitions in our efforts to ensure that small and medium-sized manufacturers across the country have access to the resources they need to innovate and grow," said Under Secretary of Commerce for Standards and Technology and NIST Director Willie E. May. "These new awards will help continue MEP's successful support of U.S. manufacturing and no doubt bring about new innovations."

Each award will have a five-year period of performance, with the potential for an additional five years of funding if the awardee meets certain performance levels, continues to provide services relevant to its customers, and funding is available.

The competition is open to U.S.-based nonprofits, and state-based and higher-education organizations (including current awardees) to work in partnership with NIST MEP. Additionally, awardees must identify nonfederal cost sharing of at least 50 percent of the total allowable project costs for the first through third years of operation, with increasing minimum nonfederal cost share requirements beginning in year four of the award.

NIST MEP will host one or two informational webinars for organizations considering applying for funding. Details on the webinar will be posted on the MEP website. Full details on this federal funding opportunity can be found at Grants.gov.

As a public-private partnership, MEP delivers a high return on investment to taxpayers. For every one dollar of federal investment, the MEP generates $17 in new sales growth and $24 in new client investment. This translates into $2.3 billion in new sales annually. And, for every $1,900 of federal investment, MEP creates or retains one manufacturing job. Since 1988, MEP has worked with 86,620 manufacturers, leading to $96.4 billion in sales and $15.7 billion in cost savings, and it has helped create and retain nearly 800,000 jobs.

NIST promotes U.S. innovation and industrial competitiveness by advancing measurement science, standards and technology in ways that enhance economic security and improve our quality of life.