Manufacturing assistance program loses out on funding

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Manufacturing assistance program loses out on funding

The state legislature’s Joint Finance Committee adjourned without following a request by Gov. Jim Doyle to fund a subsidized consulting program that benefits small Wisconsin manufacturers.
Wisconsin Manufacturing Extension Partnership (WMEP), an organization that helps small Wisconsin manufacturers implement lean manufacturing techniques, was initially zeroed out of the budget by Doyle.
WMEP received about $1 million in funding from the state in 2002. State funding and additional revenue from fees charged to manufacturing clients for consulting and training are matched by the federal government – which means pain caused by the loss of state funding will be amplified by loss of federal money.
During Joint Finance proceedings, Sen. Bob Welch (R-Redgranite) was behind a measure to give WMEP $100,000, with the money coming from another state program.
Doyle got in the act by submitting to the committee a letter asking that WMEP be funded at a level of $500,000. But, according to sources close to the committee, time and budget constraints prevented the committee from coming up with the cash.
"We just got word on Thursday (June 5) that it didn’t happen," WMEP executive director Mike Klonsinski said. "We have already been consolidating and leaving a couple of positions open, cutting back on a few services. One of the things we are going to have to cut back on is the support we were providing the suppliers in our supplier development activity.
"WMEP helps small manufacturers with the cost of participating in technical college programs that help them be more effective suppliers to major Wisconsin OEMs (original equipment manufacturers). We won’t be able to do that anymore. And we’ll have to do away with free offerings and seminars, and informal pro bono or long-term support or advice between paid projects," Klonsinski said.
Klonsinski said he doubted the full legislature would make major changes to the amended budget.

June 13, 2003 Small Business Times, Milwaukee

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