governments are the source of matching funds. Although some MTCs have been successful in arranging cooperation across state boundaries, Cleveland and Minnesota in particular, these efforts are still small. This issue will need to be confronted more directly in the future as the MTC program is expanded.
Based on the discussions at the workshops with MTC personnel and manufacturers, a majority of the committee has concluded that the MTCs are well placed to provide many of the services needed to improve the performance of smaller manufacturers. (See Chapter 6 for a minority opinion.) Many of the needs and opportunities identified by the manufacturers relate to improving access to information and building stronger networks among companies, suppliers, technology developers, regulators, and financiers. Many of the activities of the MTCs already address these needs, but, for a variety of reasons, these activities are not given the emphasis they deserve.
Some manufacturers perceive the MTCs as just another government program and therefore are reluctant to work with MTC staff; these firms are probably in the minority, however, and can be expected to change their minds over time. Most manufacturers seem to perceive the MTCs as neutral parties without a vested interest in any particular vendor, equipment type, or software package, and as government bodies with access to other government bodies such as state regulatory agencies. The MTCs should capitalize on this perception by playing a far more forceful role in mobilizing networks within local manufacturing communities. Such networks would improve sharing of information, experience, and problems; they could also serve as an effective mechanism for aggregating the concerns of smaller manufacturers to provide a voice in national policy commensurate with their numbers.
Each of the MTCs continues to learn how best to serve its customer base and is flexible enough to adapt. All are learning what they should do in the context of their customer base and their resources and capabilities. They are learning how to serve as a hub of information and facilitator of cooperation in their local industrial communities, and how to amalgamate a range of programs into a core set of useful services. More progress is needed, particularly in building methodologies for effective group learning among companies, but the learning process seems strong.