Manufacturing program could be lost in budget cuts

An organization devoted to helping small Wisconsin manufacturers remain profitable is the target of budget-cutting measures proposed by Gov. Jim Doyle and the Wisconsin Department of Commerce (DOC).
The Wisconsin Manufacturing Extension Partnership (WMEP) provides subsidized consulting services and training to small manufacturers interested in implementing lean manufacturing processes.
The organization 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 is matched by the federal government.
Doyle said he did not make the original recommendation to cut WMEP out of the budget, and he is holding open the notion of resuming funding for the program in the future.
"Most of those recommendations came from the individual departments," Doyle told Small Business Times. "There are some good things we won’t be able to do for a while. Maybe we can start again when there is money in the budget."
However, according to WMEP executive director Mike Klonsinski, the disappearance of state dollars will mean a reduction in federal funding as well.
"While we have managed to expand with the same level of state support over the past few years, complete elimination of state support would have severe consequences," Klonsinski said. "The problem is compounded because cuts in state support also turn into cuts in our ability to draw federal funds. Just as we have been successful in leveraging over $2 in federal dollars for every $1 of state investment — the reverse occurs when we lose state dollars."
WMEP operates with an annual budget of about a $7.5 million, of which $2.6 million comes from the federal government, Klonsinski said.
Apart from the $1 million from the WDC, the remainder comes from fees paid for consulting and training and contributions from other organizations, according to Klonsinski.
Klonsinski said he and his staff were examining their options, including a reduction of services to small manufacturers, price increases and a concentration of services in higher density areas.
"With federal budget pressures as they are, a reduction in our ability to bring federal dollars to the state to support our efforts may become permanent," Klonsinski said.

April 4, 2003 Small Business Times, Milwaukee

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