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Congressman Cole Votes for Manufacturing Technology Competitiveness Act

July 9, 2004
Press Release

Washington, D.C. – Congressman Tom Cole voted today for the Manufacturing Technology Competitiveness Act (H.R. 3598) that would strengthen existing federal research and development efforts in manufacturing by reauthorizing the Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP). This legislation passed in the House by a voice vote.

"The MEP program assists approximately 20,000 manufacturers each year to be more successful, and in the process, helps create well-paying jobs. Manufacturing exports made up 91 percent of Oklahoma's total international exports in 2003. Policies that help small manufacturers compete globally will surely help Oklahoma compete in a world-wide market," Congressman Cole said.

The Manufacturing Extension Partnership is a network of 60 not-for-profit centers in over 400 locations in the 50 states.   Each center works directly with local manufacturers to help them improve manufacturing processes, train workers, improve business practices, and apply information technology to their companies.

H.R. 3598 would also create an additional competitive grant program from which MEP centers can obtain supplemental funding for manufacturing-related projects.

"This will allow Manufacturing Extension Partnership to continue to serve small and medium-sized manufacturers and develop new approaches to meeting emerging challenges in manufacturing, creating lasting careers for the Americans who seek them," Congressman Cole said.

Congressman Cole voted for both the Manufacturing Technology Competitiveness Act and the Commerce, Justice, and State Appropriations bill.  Both pieces of legislation will greatly enhance the MEP program. The Manufacturing Technology Competitiveness Act will authorize funding for the MEP program at $106 million in FY 2005, an increase of $66 million from this year's funding level. The FY 2005 Commerce, Justice, and State Appropriation bill funds the MEP at $106 million, restoring full funding for the program. The bill also improves the MEP program as part of Congress's periodic review.