Gardner, Peters Introduce Bipartisan Bill to Bolster Public-Private Partnerships that Support Small and Medium-Sized Manufacturers

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senators Cory Gardner (R-CO) and Gary Peters (D-MI), members of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, announced introduction of a bipartisan bill that would strengthen the public-private partnerships providing critical support and guidance to small and medium-sized manufacturers during the COVID-19 pandemic. S. 4719, the Helping Manufacturers Respond to COVID-19 Act of 2020, would specifically grant Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP) centers throughout the country federal funding to carry out their mission of providing resources to help manufacturers expand growth, maintain staff, and adapt to market changes during these uncertain economic times resulting from COVID-19.

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NOTE: Click here or the picture above to download Senator Gardner’s remarks.

“I’m proud to work with Senator Peters to support the Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP) program, which is an important resource for manufacturers throughout Colorado and across the country,” said Senator Gardner. “Colorado’s MEP, Manufacturer’s Edge, has built dozens of relationships and provided critical insight for manufacturers over the years. This bill will help keep our manufacturing industry strong and contains relief that will benefit all four corners of Colorado.”

“As small businesses across Michigan continue adapting their operations to overcome challenges posed by the Coronavirus pandemic, it has never been more important for Manufacturing Extension Partnerships like the Michigan Manufacturing and Technology Center to have the resources necessary to support our workers and manufacturers,” said Senator Peters. “We must ensure that these partnerships can continue helping small and medium-sized manufacturers in Michigan and throughout the country recover and rebuild stronger than before. I look forward to building bipartisan support for this commonsense legislation and advancing it through the Senate.”   

"The temporary cost-share waiver is critical as it enables the MEP National Network to continue to respond to manufacturers' needs in these uncertain times," said Carrie Hines, President and CEO, American Small Manufacturers Coalition (ASMC). "This bill will ensure MEP Centers can stay focused on the vital issues at hand, while working effectively to help strengthen the supply chain in critical areas like cybersecurity and supplier scouting."

MEP centers across the country offer resources that enable manufacturers to compete globally, support greater supply chain integration, and provide access to information, training, and technologies that improve efficiency, productivity and profitability. During the Coronavirus pandemic, MEPs have helped manufacturers utilize available resources, such as the Small Business Administration’s Paycheck Protection Program, source and connect suppliers to reconfigure production to make critically needed supplies, and help navigate the Food and Drug Administration approval process.

Built on a nationwide network of centers located in all 50 states and Puerto Rico, the MEP program is a partnership between the federal government and a variety of private sector entities that serve as trusted business advisors and technical experts to a variety of SMMs. 

According to the Institute for Supply Management, 75 percent of all manufacturers across the nation have experienced supply chain disruptions since the onset of the Coronavirus pandemic, which led to a 6.3 percent loss in total output in March 2020 -- the largest single-month drop in 74 years.

Under the CARES Act, the cost-share between MEP affiliates and the federal government was allowed to be waived for MEP affiliates. The legislation extends the option of waiving the cost-share in full or in part into 2021. The bill is also cosponsored by U.S. Senators Chris Coons (D-DE), Mazie Hirono (D-HI), Cory Booker (D-NJ), Tim Kaine (D-VA), Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), Bob Menendez (D-NJ), and Michael Bennet (D-CO).


Cory Gardner is a member of the U.S. Senate serving Colorado. He sits on the Energy & Natural Resources Committee, the Foreign Relations Committee, the Commerce, Science, & Transportation Committee, and is the Chairman of the Subcommittee on East Asia, the Pacific, and International Cybersecurity Policy.