financial plan. (Appendix C is a copy of the 1992 Federal Register notice requesting MTC proposals.) Proposers must demonstrate that they understand the needs of their local manufacturing base and are qualified to meet those needs effectively and consistently. Innovative approaches to meeting the needs of the local industrial community are encouraged; NIST offers no predetermined solutions or expectations regarding modes of operation or specific program offerings.
This approach to the proposal process and conditions for funding are reflected in the current MTCs. Each MTC has a unique combination of services targeted at local industrial conditions (see Table 3). Each has a different relationship with its local cosponsor, typically state government, and has a different combination of financial and in-kind matching funds. Each has a relatively unique relationship with other service providers, such as consultants, community colleges, universities, and other state assistance efforts. Each MTC, therefore, can be viewed as an experiment or prototype in how to integrate federal efforts in manufacturing assistance with existing private and public assistance resources to meet the demands of very diverse local manufacturing communities.
The NIST and the Manufacturing Technology Centers fund the Modernization Forum to capture the lessons gained from these MTC experiments, to accelerate the learning process across them, and to identify areas for joint ventures among the MTCs. The activities of the Forum include national conferences on issues such as technology transfer to smaller manufacturers, an annual conference of MTC staff, joint MTC projects, and initiatives to link the MTCs with state extension programs, universities, and other public sources of industrial assistance. The MTC directors comprise the board of directors of the Modernization Forum, which meets monthly.
Of the eight workshops held by the committee, six were collocated at MTCs. In addition to the workshops, half-day sessions were spent with MTC staff learning about their programs and experiences in working with the local manufacturing communities. (The remaining workshops were held in Los Angeles prior to that MTC becoming operational and in Georgia.) Based on these discussions, as well as conversations with company representatives who had had some experience working with the MTCs, the committee made the following observations: