FRANKFORT, Ky. (4/6 /13) – Manufacturers across the Commonwealth will benefit from services offered by the Advantage Kentucky Alliance Manufacturing Extension Partnership (AKA MEP).
The alliance of university, state, federal and professional partners was announced Friday morning (April 5) at Western Kentucky University’s Center for Research and Development.
“Everyone benefits from a stronger economy, and manufacturing is at the forefront of driving our economic success,” said Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear. “The Advantage Kentucky Alliance Manufacturing Extension Partnership offers exactly the type of collaborative effort we need to move our economy forward all across the Commonwealth.”
Scott Broughton is the director of the AKA MEP, which has its headquarters at WKU’s Center for Research and Development. Project managers will be located across the state.
“The Advantage Kentucky Alliance Manufacturing Extension Partnership is just that, an alliance among a number of entities throughout the Commonwealth interested in seeing manufacturers innovate, grow and prosper,” Broughton said.
The center at WKU will emphasize client services in Innovation Engineering Management Systems and other business growth strategies to help manufacturers expand and prosper in a global marketplace, said Dr. Blaine Ferrell, associate vice president for Research.
“We want to get the word out to manufacturers that the AKA MEP is a clearinghouse for clients in each area of the state and can either meet or direct them to someone who can meet their needs quickly,” Dr. Ferrell said.
The AKA MEP will address five key areas to allow Kentucky manufacturing to be competitively positioned to capitalize on opportunities – business growth services, supplier development services, continuous improvement services, technology acceleration and advanced manufacturing, and workforce solutions.
“The Advantage Kentucky Alliance (AKA) is a critical component of the ongoing collaborative efforts of the Kentucky Association of Manufacturers (KAM) to successfully facilitate the transformation of Kentucky’s manufacturing community from traditional to advanced,” said Greg Higdon, KAM President & CEO. “KAM and its affiliate Foundation for Kentucky Industry are very excited about the public/private sector collaboration that AKA and its partnering organizations have generated in a short period of time.”
The alliance was originally comprised of five comprehensive universities (Murray State University, Morehead State University, Northern Kentucky University, Eastern Kentucky University and WKU) and the Owensboro Community and Technical College ready to assist manufacturers with technological problems. Since then, the University of Louisville Speed School of Engineering has joined.
“The AKA MEP represents a regional and collaborative approach to helping Kentucky manufacturers grow and succeed in these difficult economic times by offering innovative solutions to issues they face as business owners,” Broughton said.
As part of the alliance, the Kentucky Association of Manufacturers, Kentucky Association for Economic Development, the Bowling Green Area Chamber of Commerce and the Greater Owensboro Economic Development Corporation will serve as connectors, helping the AKA MEP connect manufacturers to the appropriate place in the Advantage Kentucky Alliance to address their needs.
The AKA MEP project managers will be strategically located statewide, initially one project manager each will have an office at Eastern Kentucky University, Northern Kentucky University and WKU. In addition to providing growth and business development services, these project managers will be able to connect manufacturers with appropriate help from the university and agency partners.
“All these partners have been working on behalf of manufacturers for a long time in their own way,” Broughton said. “They will continue to do so, but the synergy that can be gained by all partners working together is exciting. By joining the NIST MEP network the AKA MEP will have national resources available to support Kentucky manufacturers, such as Supplier Scouting, Supply American, and ExporTech. The AKA MEP will continue to reach out to other potential partners to form collaborations with proactive entities who are interested in growing Kentucky’s economy.”
The AKA MEP represents an agreement that we all need to work together in order to provide a supportive environment for manufacturers in the Commonwealth to compete globally.
The AKA MEP is part of the National Institute of Standards and Technology’s Hollings Manufacturing Extension Partnership. NIST is an agency of the U.S. Department of Commerce.
NIST MEP’s mission is to support, strengthen and grow U.S. manufacturing. To do this, MEP provides customized and direct assistance to manufacturers through the nationwide network of MEP centers, with over 350 locations across the country, and more than 1,400 field staff working every day with companies in their plants and offices.
MEP center specialists provide an array of services to companies, from initial assessments prioritizing opportunities for improvement, to implementation projects guiding companies through process improvements, productivity increases and growth. Centers provide companies with access to training resources as well as specific project assistance. Some engagements are short-term classes or basic projects. Other companies engage in multiple projects with their local field specialist as one project often leads to several others.
Information provided by WKU
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