As part of a federal effort to build resilient supply chains, the Montana Manufacturing Extension Center at Montana State University has been awarded $400,000 to offer increased services and resources to manufacturers in the state.

The CHIPS and Science Act of 2022 authorized $20 million that’s being distributed through the National Institute of Standards and Technology’s Manufacturing Extension Partnership, a nationwide network of outreach centers like MMEC that receive federal funding to enhance U.S. manufacturing, according to Jenni West, MMEC’s associate director.

The funding has allowed MMEC to hire a full-time supply chain project manager, Jeff Peterson, and will enable MMEC to offer a variety of trainings and services to help Montana manufacturers more easily access parts and materials from domestic suppliers, West said. The effort comes in the wake of supply chain disruptions related to the pandemic that have been challenging for manufacturers in the state, she said.

“This is going to allow us to expand our work with Montana manufacturers to help them build supply chains that are more reliable because they’re based around other manufacturers like them in the U.S.,” West said. The effort could also open new market opportunities for Montana companies as they provide goods that other manufacturers in the U.S. need, she added.

MMEC has an existing supplier scouting program that helps Montana manufacturers locate parts and goods that are difficult to source. It also connects them with opportunities to respond to the supply needs of other manufacturers and federal agencies. Within the new federal effort, called MEP’s National Supply Chain Optimization and Intelligence Network, or SCOIN, that work will be expanded as part of a national framework that helps connect small suppliers to more opportunities in the supply chain, West explained.

“A lot of it will depend on our outreach to Montana manufacturers and the connections and relationships we form,” West said.

MMEC, which is housed in MSU’s Norm Asbjornson College of Engineering, is a statewide manufacturing outreach and assistance center that provides solutions to help Montana manufacturers grow, innovate and enhance their businesses. Since 2002, MMEC’s clients have reported $1.5 billion in new and retained sales, more than 7,000 new and retained jobs, $364 million in new investments and $184 million in cost savings.


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