The Nebraska Department of Economic Development will no longer administer the state’s Manufacturing Extension Partnership, a program funded by the National Institute of Standards and Technology.
Instead, the University of Nebraska-Lincoln was selected over the Nebraska Business Development Center at the University of Nebraska-Omaha to host the MEP from now on.
UNL will receive $600,000 in federal funds and will share the cost of matching those dollars with Central Community College in Hastings, said Curtis Weller, who will lead the new MEP as director.
“In some ways, we’re a sort of broker for small- to medium-sized manufacturers that come to us looking for help, whether that’s testing on a product or evaluation of processes,” Weller said.
Weller said he is in early stages of getting the new program off the ground and plans to hire two field staff in Lincoln. There will also be field staff in Hastings.
The MEP program is expected to either create or retain 285 manufacturing jobs in Nebraska and to stimulate $12 million in new sales growth among the state’s manufacturers.
The Nebraska Business Development Center has subcontracted through the state MEP to consult manufacturers on lean process engineering initiatives.
With or without funding through the MEP, center director Bob Bernier said he plans to continue offering those resources to Nebraska manufacturers.
“We had made overtures to UNL at the beginning of this process to have a joint proposal (to host the MEP) and they didn’t seem interested in that,” Bernier said. “They were justified in that since they got the award by themselves but we will continue to do what we do.”