If you not have heard of manufacturing extension partnerships, then you are missing information that and has proven important to the overall economic development mix that envelops this region and many others across the nation.

In the Pocono-Northeast, the Northeastern Pennsylvania Industrial Resource Center administers this key program and has a highly qualified and professional staff that provides support for the many manufacturing firms that dot the regional landscape. Started by the then Economic Development Council of Northeastern Pennsylvania, now the NEPA Alliance, NEPIRC has become an inspiration and supporter of manufacturing companies that have proven worker productivity and income factors of significance. A recent study by the Upjohn Institute for Employment Research and Summit Consulting, Inc. showd the level of competency and economic impact of these institutions across the nation.

The Manufacturing Extension Partnership is part of the National Institute of Standards and Technology and shows the impact of such partnerships on the U.S. economy in 2019. The centers provide services such as assistance with product development, tools and resources for business expansion and business continuity planning, new investments and improved products and processes. They generally increase the productivity, profitability and competitiveness of client firms which create jobs, increase earnings and expanding the tax base. A model is used developed by Regional Economic Models, Inc. to determine the indirect an induced effects of the reported increase in jobs, sales, cost savings and investments by manufacturing partnership clients. The study found that the investment of $140 million in federal funding for partnerships resulted in a return to the Treasury of $1.87 billion. Therefore, this return is based upon a return on investment of nearly 14.4:1. Partnerships are located in all 50 states and Puerto Rico, and over 10,000 clients were surveyed. Some results of client surveys noted in the report include number of Jobs, jobs retained, increases in sales, retained sales, cost savings, investment in plant and equipment, investment in products and processes, investment in information systems, workforce training, other investments and investment savings.

Retained sales were extremely vital as well as created and retained jobs and most investments were in plants and equipment. The survey report pointed out that there were 217,646 jobs added with $41 billion in output and an additional $23 billion in gross domestic product and about $14 billion in personal income to the economy in 2019. Some of the types of firms studied included food manufacturing, beverage and tobacco manufacturing, textile mills, wood product manufacturing, printing and support activities, plastics and rubber products manufacturing, primary metals, machinery, computer and electronics, transportation, furniture, professional, scientific, and technical services. Many of these types are found in the Pocono-Northeast. Investments and savings were examined as well and shown as indicative responses for the overall definition of how these elements add to the role of partnerships.

Since 1988, NEPIRC has provided professional services by working with manufacturing clients to address their unique challenges and maximize their profitability. Professional business advisers design customized solutions and industry best practices, implement strategies, and help enter new markets. NEPIRC is one of seven industrial resource centers in Pennsylvania, especially helping small- and mid-sized firms. Its board includes prominent regional manufacturing executives. Much of its work concentrates on business growth, operational excellence, industry certifications, leadership development and business strategy and development. It commits to improving the competitiveness of clients. It meets customer and regulatory requirements and establishes and reviews quality objectives as a means of continual improvement and customer satisfaction. It is located at 75 Young Street, Hanover Industrial Park, Hanover, Pa. 18706 and can be reached at 570-819-8966 and by e-mail at info@nepirc.com.

The role that NEPIRC plays clearly demonstrates an exciting opportunity for being part of the team of manufacturing extension partnerships that exist across Pennsylvania and many other states in the United States. Its value to this region has been proven many times over in its 33 years of service.

Howard J. Grossman is the former executive director of EDCNP, now NEPA Alliance. Email him at GrossmanHJ@aol.com.