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June 25, 2023 | Tom Ballard

TN Manufacturing Extension Partnership receives extra funding to support supply chains

The UT-managed program receives about $400,000 as part of federal "CHIPS and Science Act of 2022."

The Tennessee Manufacturing Extension Partnership (TMEP) will receive about $400,000 as its share of special funding that came to the National Institutes of Standards and Technology (NIST) under the “CHIPS and Science Act of 2022.”

“We’re receiving approximately $400,000 to provide services that support supply chain resilience, including funding for Connex, a supplier database that we’re developing with the Tennessee Chamber of Commerce and Industry and its Tennessee Manufacturers Association,” said Paul Jennings, Executive Director of the University of Tennessee’s Center for Industrial Services that houses the TMEP.

“Cybersecurity is another emphasis,” he added. “Our initial focus is on the automotive supply chain. TMEP will also be expanding its collaboration with APEX, formerly PTAC, to provide cyber, innovation, and performance improvement services to defense suppliers.” PTAC was known for decades at the Procurement Technical Assistance Center before its recent national rebranding as the APEX Accelerator.

“For the first time, the U.S. government is creating a comprehensive end-to-end mapping of the supply chain, which is crucial for the domestic manufacturing industry and resiliency,” said Pravina Raghavan, NIST MEP Director, in this news release. “Supply chain shortages are due to a lack of supply chain capacity. To address this issue, we’re creating an information system that lays out all the suppliers across various industries. This way, we can connect small suppliers to more opportunities in the supply chain.”

The funding opportunity requires each MEP center to dedicate at least one staff member or contractor per year to support these efforts and report on the results to small and medium-sized manufacturers and the MEP National Network. The projects will run for an initial two years and, if successful, may be extended.

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