WASHINGTON, DC — U.S. Senators Jack Reed and Sheldon Whitehouse today announced $750,000 in federal funding to continue supporting the Polaris Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP). Based in Providence, Polaris MEP is a statewide non-profit organization that provides competitive manufacturing business improvement programs to help the state’s manufacturing industry become more competitive and innovative. Polaris is a business unit of the University of Rhode Island Research Foundation and has worked for nearly two decades to provide improvement solutions to over 750 Rhode Island manufacturers.
The federal grant was awarded under the U.S. Department of Commerce’s National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP) program. MEP centers form a nationwide network of proven resources that enables manufacturers to compete globally, supports greater supply chain integration, and provides access to information, training, and technologies that improve efficiency, productivity, and profitability.
“I am pleased to help provide federal funding to boost Rhode Island manufacturing and ensure local companies have the tools they need to compete, expand, and thrive here in Rhode Island,” said Senator Reed, a member of the Appropriations Committee, who helped include $130 million in the fiscal year 2015 omnibus appropriations bill for MEP.
“In Rhode Island, our manufacturing tradition stretches from the dawn of the American Industrial Revolution at Slater Mill to high-tech companies across Rhode Island today,” said Senator Whitehouse. “Our manufacturers have always made quality products and created well-paying jobs, fueling our economy for generations. I’m glad that this federal funding will allow Polaris to continue supporting RI manufacturers.”
According to its website, Polaris MEP provides on-site training and one-on-one custom services designed to help manufacturing companies in Rhode Island grow their businesses and operate more efficiently. It offers “lean manufacturing” programs, including production optimization, cost reduction, facility layout and quality management services like ISO certification, as well as growth-oriented services designed to help manufacturers access new markets and develop new products and processes.
The latest statistics from Polaris MEP show that between 2010 and 2012, the organization helped increase and retain $46 million in sales for its clients and also helped them achieve $6 million in cost savings.