WASHINGTON - Michigan manufacturers might be getting some relief soon as the economic crisis tied to coronavirus deepens.
A bipartisan bill introduced by Rep. Haley Stevens (D-Rochester Hills) seeks to buoy the struggling sector of Michigan's economy by waiving the cost of using resources offered by the state's collaborative manufacturing partnership.
The MEP Crisis Response Act would double federal funding going into the partnership, opening up services to small and mid-sized manufacturers for the next year.
"This bill is very important to the MEP National Network and to our nation's small and medium-sized manufacturers (SMMs)," said Mike Coast, president of the Michigan Manufacturing Technology Center. "In Michigan, this one-time waiver of the cost-share will allow our center to continue to work with SMMs..."
Amid the economic turmoil beginning to mount over the coronavirus pandemic, Michigan manufacturers haven't had a lot of good news to turn to over the past couple of weeks. With global supply chains disrupted and major companies halting production of products in an effort to slow the spread of the virus, employers are starting to layoff workers.
What started in the travel and vacation world has trickled down into the service industry, followed by factory and plant shutdowns as well. For smaller businesses that live closer to their fiscal bottom line, little flexibility is available.
"Every industry is feeling the impact of the coronavirus pandemic, but the manufacturing community, in particular, is struggling to adjust to social distancing practices and overall economic uncertainty," said Stevens.
Businesses often turn to the Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP) for support. For Michigan businesses, that means the Michigan Manufacturing Technology Center, located in Plymouth.
A collaborative that gets its money from all kinds of public and private resources, smaller manufacturers rely heavily on the center for guidance and resources, like cybersecurity, supplier scouting, and implementing other technology.
"These are essential services that will enable us to support and generate continued momentum that our manufacturers will need to survive and thrive in a dramatically changing business environment," said Coast.
Stevens' bill is co-sponsored by Republican Troy Balderson out of Ohio. A similar bill was introduced in the Senate by several lawmakers as well, including Senator Gary Peters.