Panel Discussing Federal Funding to Benefit Rhode Island Manufacturers Convened

Congressional Delegation and Local Manufacturers Discuss the Tangible Benefits to the MEP Program

PROVIDENCE, RI – At a panel discussion hosted by Senator Sheldon Whitehouse and Representative David Cicilline, representatives from three Rhode Island manufacturers discussed how Polaris MEP, the Manufacturing Extension Partnership for Rhode Island, has impacted small manufacturing in Rhode Island.

The Honorable Sheldon Whitehouse, U.S. Senator, convened the panel on August 7. The Senate’s new budget provides $130 million in funding for the Manufacturing Extension Program (MEP), nationwide.

“Polaris MEP is an important resource for manufacturers that are growing and creating jobs in Rhode Island, as the industry continues to expand upon our state’s long tradition of making high-quality, state of the art products,” said Whitehouse.

Representative David Cicilline said, “I was glad to have this opportunity to highlight the incredible difference that Polaris MEP makes to Rhode Island’s manufacturers. This federal investment creates good-paying jobs, and I am going to continue to fight in Washington to protect this great resource and rebuild manufacturing in our state.”

Matt Dunham of Clear Carbon and Components in Bristol discussed how the Manufacturing Innovation Challenge, a program managed by Polaris MEP through a contract with Commerce RI and the U.S. Office of Economic Adjustment, helped his leadership team pinpoint blind spots and weaknesses in the company. By focusing on those issues, they gained necessary certifications to compete for contracts with larger companies. In the past three years, the company has increased revenue and doubled the number of employees to 25.

Michael McKeldon Woody, CEO of Trans-Tex in Cranston, and author of “American Dragon, Winning the Global Manufacturing War Using the Universal Principles of Fewer, Faster and Finer” said Polaris MEP, the Manufacturing Extension Partnership for Rhode Island, will play a critical role in launching the Rhode Island Textile Innovation Network. RITIN is a newly formed trade group for advanced textile manufacturers. Woody said Polaris MEP’s support was important. “Past efforts to create a textile association in this state have failed because we are too busy running our companies to volunteer our time to manage a business association,” said Woody. He said the companies appreciate having a partner organization like Polaris MEP to help guide strategy and encourage the companies to work together on larger, long-term goals.

Rob Hall, President of Parmatech Proform in East Providence, which hosted the event, said, “In partnership with Polaris MEP we’ve fostered a leadership culture focused on LEAN principles.” The company won the 2016 Providence Business News Best Lean Management award for their continuous improvement practices.

Polaris MEP is a state-wide non-profit organization that provides competitive manufacturing business improvement to grow Rhode Island’s manufacturing industry. Polaris is an affiliate of the National Institute of Standards and Technology’s Manufacturing Extension Program (NIST MEP) and a business unit of the University of Rhode Island Research Foundation. Since 1996, Polaris has delivered business improvement solutions to more than 750 Rhode Island manufacturers to help them achieve sustainability and growth.

About Polaris MEP
Polaris MEP is a statewide non-profit organization that provides competitive manufacturing business improvement programs to grow Rhode Island’s manufacturing industry. Polaris is an affiliate of the National Institute of Standards and Technology’s Manufacturing Extension Program (NIST MEP) and a business unit of the University of Rhode Island Research Foundation. Since 1996 Polaris has delivered improvement solutions to more than 750 Rhode Island manufacturers to help them achieve sustainable and profitable growth.

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