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Shaheen, Hassan Introduce Bill to Help Manufacturing Extension Partnership Centers during Coronavirus Public Health Emergency

Bill would reinforce federal support for national network of MEP centers, which provide critical resources for small and medium manufacturers

WASHINGTON – Yesterday, U.S. Senators Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) and Maggie Hassan (D-NH) introduced with their colleagues the MEP Crisis Response Act of 2020, which would help Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP) centers stay open during the COVID-19 crisis and beyond.

MEP centers, which are funded through public-private cost-sharing, provide manufacturing companies with resources to promote growth, improve productivity, and expand capacity. As manufacturers cut costs during the COVID-19 crisis, MEP centers will lose both service fees and access to already-appropriated public matching funds. Many will be forced to close.  

The MEP Crisis Response Act exempts MEP centers from federal cost-sharing requirements for one year, allowing them to use their appropriated funding without charging clients for services they need but cannot afford. It also commits $146 million in additional public funds to make up for lost private funding and to give MEP centers the resources they need to fully engage with the recovery effort.

MEP centers are uniquely equipped to act as front-line resources for manufacturers facing supply chain, workforce, and revenue challenges during the current crisis and its aftermath. As Congress considers large public investments to reinforce the imperiled American economy, it risks overlooking existing resources like the MEP network.

“The coronavirus public health emergency is severely impacting businesses, which is why we need to ensure we are supporting Manufacturing Extension Partnerships to carry on their efforts to provide assistance to our local manufacturers. MEPs play an important role for American small- and medium- sized manufacturers, empowering them with the resources they need to produce innovative, cutting-edge products that drive our economy,” said Senator Shaheen, the lead Democrat of the Commerce, Justice, Science and Related Agencies Appropriations Subcommittee, which provides funding for MEPs. “This legislation would help ensure MEPs are able to continue operating during this crisis and support the recovery effort. I’ll continue to fight to ensure businesses in New Hampshire and across the country have the tools they need to stay afloat as we confront this crisis together.”

“As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to disrupt our economy, it is absolutely essential that our small and medium-sized manufacturers are able to continue producing essential products like medical equipment and protective gear,” Senator Hassan said. “Waiving the cost sharing requirement and ensuring available capital for the Manufacturing Extension Partnership state centers will help ensure that manufacturers in New Hampshire and across the country can continue to receive valuable advice and support from industry experts to help their business thrive and to assist in recovery efforts.”

Yesterday, Shaheen and Hassan voted in favor of robust economic coronavirus response legislation to provide financial support workers, businesses and families impacted by the spread of the coronavirus. The President signed it into law last night. In addition, Small Business Administrator Jovita Carranza signed New Hampshire’s emergency declaration to allow Granite State small businesses to be eligible for the full suite of emergency resources through the SBA, as firms mitigate financial hardships due to the spread of the coronavirus. The New Hampshire delegation called on the SBA earlier this week to approve the emergency declaration.

Senators Shaheen and Hassan have been sounding the alarm on the need for additional federal funding to reduce the spread of the coronavirus. Following calls from Shaheen, Hassan, and others in Congress, on Friday, President Trump declared a national emergency in response to the spread of coronavirus. Shaheen and Hassan supported bipartisan government funding legislation to help states’ response efforts, which was recently signed into law. The CDC disbursed the $4.9 million funds for New Hampshire included in that funding package. Earlier this week, Shaheen shared a video message with Granite Staters in response to the spread of the coronavirus, which can be viewed in full here