Debate is on in Washington, D.C., on dramatic cuts in the administration’s 2003 budget request for the popular Manufacturing Extension Partnership program.
U.S. Sen. Pete Domenici has warned against the cuts, saying he has heard from dozens of New Mexico small businesses that vouch for the services the program provides.
He aired concerns at a Senate Commerce, Justice, State and Judiciary Appropriation Sub-committee hearing investigating the FY2003 budget requests for the U.S. Commerce Department.
Domenici and his colleagues want Commerce Secretary Don Evans to redress the administration’s proposal to essentially eliminate funding for MEP next year.
“I have to tell you that the Manufacturing Extension Pro-gram (MEP) has done extremely good work in New Mexico, and I have heard from dozens of my constituents in favor of continuing funding for the program at $110 million in FY2003,” Domenici said.
Belen businesses, including Hydrocut, Sisneros Brothers, Solo Cup and Sud-Chemie Performance Packaging, were among those asking Domenici for continued funding of MEP.
“This program is like the agricultural extension service where training is available from experts in the manufacturing field,” said Martin Sisneros, owner of Sisneros Brothers. “Our future is based on the help we are getting from MEP.”
MEP has provided four training sessions for Sisneros Brothers.
“In a three-day session, we have mapped out how we are doing business now. Then we mapped out what we want to accomplish. Then we made a map on how to get there,” Sisneros said. “We are implementing the plan in baby steps.”
MEP works through a nationwide network of manufacturing extension centers that are linked to state, university and private sources of technical expertise. The New Mexico center is located in Albuquerque and chaired by Maria Estela de Rios, executive vice president of Orion International Technologies Inc.
The program was established to help small businesses and manufacturers gain access to technologies, resources, and technical expertise that they might not have in-house, in an effort to make them more competitive.
Sisneros says the MEP program is one of the best programs available for small business.
“The program is giving us training in the topics we need to know to be more competitive. They are teaching us world class techniques so we can manufacture efficiently, which, in turn, makes us more competitive in the world.”