Birgit Klohs, Right Place president, announced the organization’s gratitude Friday immediately after the U.S. House of Representatives adopted the act.
“On behalf of the manufacturers of West Michigan, we want to express our deep gratitude to Rep. Ehlers,” Klohs said. “He has been absolutely tireless in supporting the manufacturing sector and the passage of this bill is a great victory.”
Ehlers told the Business Journal Express that the measure fosters the competitiveness of U.S. manufacturers by providing:
- Better coordination between federal manufacturing research and development.
- A strengthened Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP) program.
- A collaborative grants program at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) to support innovation.
- A fellowship program at NIST to cultivate greater U.S. expertise in the manufacturing sciences.
“Our action today is a victory for America’s manufacturing sector, especially the small and medium-sized manufacturers in Michigan and around the country who are constantly striving to remain competitive in the global marketplace,” Ehlers said.
“This bill fosters innovation, which is critical to ensure that our manufacturing sector not only survives, but thrives in today’s global economy.”
The legislation reauthorizes the MEP program with $470 million of funding over four years. It also would authorize $30 million for grants encouraging partnerships among industry, educational institutions and local organizations for manufacturing-related projects.
Ehlers said he’s also pleased that the House last Thursday approved $106 million for the MEP program for FY2005 in the Commerce-State-Justice Appropriations bill.
“I can’t overstate the important message we have sent by passing authorizing and funding legislation in the same week,” noted Ehlers.
“This rarely happens in Congress,” he said, “and it shows that even in tight budgets, manufacturing matters to Congress.”
He said he is urging the Senate to take up these bills quickly “so that we can send them on to President Bush for his approval.”