Report from America: In Arkansas, Solutions and Partnerships

I just got back from a productive visit with our friends with Arkansas Manufacturing Solutions (AMS) in Little Rock, offering a talk about the importance of manufacturing to our economy and the challenges we face. The AMS is one of many Manufacturing Extension Partnerships (MEPs) around the country that work with small manufacturers to help them acquire modern technology, have access to professional advice, obtain funding and export their products abroad. The MEPs are a profound blessing to manufacturing and our economy, so of course the bean counters in the Office of Management and Budget try to zero out the minimal federal funding they receive each year, and every year we (the NAM) fight to get it put back. But every dollar that goes to the MEPs generates many more in economic growth, new jobs and exports.

I don’t have space to recount all of the information I picked up down there. But a couple of stories stand out. Timothy J. Grant, Chairman, President and CEO of Actronix, described how his company brought production back to the U.S. from China, primarily because of concern about quality. Lee Morgan, President of Farr Air Pollution Control, described how his company almost went under and attributed much of the credit for their survival – and expansion – to the AMS. There was lots of talk about, and interest in, green manufacturing. And everyone there was grateful to Rep. Marion Berry (D-AR) for his ardent support of the MEP program.

Many thanks to Dan Curtis and Tovia Chan of the AMS for arranging this great meeting and inviting me to speak. I had a wonderful time, and as always happens on these trips, I came back wiser than I left.


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