WASHINGTON, DC -- U.S. Senators Jack Reed and Sheldon Whitehouse today announced $750,000 in federal funding to continue supporting the Polaris Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP).  Based in Providence, Polaris MEP is a statewide non-profit organization that provides manufacturing business improvement programs to help the state’s manufacturing industry become more competitive and innovative.  Polaris is a business unit of the University of Rhode Island Research Foundation and has worked for nearly two decades to provide improvement solutions to over 750 Rhode Island manufacturers.

The federal grant was awarded under the U.S. Department of Commerce’s National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP) program.  MEP centers form a nationwide network of proven resources that enables manufacturers to compete globally, supports greater supply chain integration, and provides access to information, training, and technologies that improve efficiency, productivity, and profitability.

“These federal funds will help fuel Rhode Island’s manufacturing sector and ensure local companies have the tools and technical assistance they need to compete, expand, and thrive here at home,” said Senator Reed, a member of the Appropriations Committee, who helped include $130 million in the fiscal year 2016 omnibus appropriations bill for MEP.

“Manufacturing has been a centerpiece of Rhode Island’s economy since the American Industrial Revolution began on the banks of the Blackstone River,” said Senator Whitehouse. “For generations, Rhode Island manufacturers have created products known for quality and design, and jobs that allow families to enjoy a good quality of life. I am pleased that this continued funding will support Polaris’s work to ensure that our state’s manufacturers have the tools they need to succeed.” 

According to its website, Polaris MEP provides on-site training and one-on-one custom services designed to help manufacturing companies in Rhode Island grow their businesses and operate more efficiently.  It offers “lean manufacturing” programs, including production optimization, cost reduction, facility layout and quality management services like ISO certification, as well as growth-oriented services designed to help manufacturers access new markets and develop new products and processes.