resources, and the time to do so. Many SMEs will require increased assistance from MEC/TRPs to respond effectively.

From a different perspective, this convergence has created unprecedented opportunities for suppliers from low-cost areas of the world. With reduced trade barriers, access to technologies and modern management methods, increased training in English, better educated and more skilled workforces, easy access to the Web to advertise their products, learn about competitors, and bid on jobs all over the world, and the availability of overnight delivery, they can now compete with SMEs in the United States in terms of cost, delivery, quality, service, technology, and all of the other requirements of integrated supply chains.

To respond to these converging challenges, U.S. small and medium-sized manufacturing enterprises must, at a minimum, take the following key steps:

  • engage in meaningful strategic planning, not just budgeting

  • increase their financial, managerial, and technological strengths

  • add value to their products and integrate more closely with their customers

  • integrate their own supply chains to reduce costs and improve performance

These responses will not, by themselves, ensure competitiveness, but they are essential for the successful participation of small and medium-sized manufacturing enterprises in modern integrated supply chains.

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