August 23, 2018 marks a special day for the Hollings Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP) program at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST). Thirty years ago, President Ronald Reagan signed the Omnibus Trade and Competitiveness Act (Public Law 100-418). Section 5121 established the Regional Centers for the Transfer of Manufacturing Technology and the Assistance to State Technology Programs, the precursors to today’s MEP.
Looking at the history of the MEP program in Louisiana, it can be traced back to the Louisiana Productivity Center (1986), which operated under the University of South Louisiana (currently known as the University of Louisiana at Lafayette; ULL) and focused on improving productivity of business interests in the areas of:
Plastics, polymers, and composites division
Manufacturing and development division
Procurement Technical Assistance Center (PTAC)
After the passage of the Hollings MEP Program in 1988, the Louisiana Manufacturing & Technology Center (LAMTEC) was formed by combing the Plastics and Manufacturing divisions of the Louisiana Productivity Center. In 1997, LAMTEC was transformed to the Manufacturing Extension Partnership of Louisiana (MEPOL), as a sponsored program of ULL. The program then shifted hosts to South Louisiana Community College (SLCC) in 2014 and to the Louisiana Community and Technical College System (LCTCS) in 2016.
LCTCS, which manages all of the twelve public 2-year institutions in the state of Louisiana, provides an expanded geographical footprint for the MEP operations in Louisiana. LCTCS has developed many initiatives to improve the lives of citizens in Louisiana with a goal to train and provide a highly- skilled successful workforce. LCTCS works with each individual community college to create relevant, timely programs and services that address their specific industry needs and is committed to continued support for Louisiana manufacturers. To accomplish that, we are currently advertising for three project managers to be located at the following colleges:
• Central Louisiana Technical Community College
• Louisiana Delta Community College
• SOWELA Technical Community College
for job descriptions and directions to apply. The project managers work closely with workforce leaders at the community and technical colleges to serve manufacturers state-wide. Currently, the MEP of Louisiana offers services in Lean, Six Sigma, Workflow Optimization, Growth Services, ISO/Quality, and Engineering Design through internal resources and a vetted network of 3
party providers. The addition of project managers will expand the technical expertise available through the MEP of Louisiana to manufacturers.
On August 16, 2018, we held an Industry Advisory Board (IAB) meeting in Lafayette, LA.
The meeting included a discussion on integration plans with LCTCS, hiring project managers, and reviewing the annual review report. I would like to thank the board members and chair, Mr. Jim Dean, for their continued guidance and passion to help shape an improved vision and mission for the MEP of Louisiana. The board is actively recruiting new board members who are manufacturers; please let me know if you are interested in serving and I will share your interest with Mr. Dean. The IAB mission is to provide advice and guidance to the Director and his staff so that the Center can better achieve its mission to improve the productivity and profitability of Louisiana’s manufacturers. The Board is governed by its bylaws, which include a regular schedule of meetings; responsibilities pertaining to strategic planning; recruitment; and selection and retention of Board members.
Looking ahead, Ali Ahmad and Scott Uffman will participate in the 2018 Center Best Practice Conference that will take place in Kansas City, Missouri in September. I look forward to working with the MEP team to continue partnering with manufacturers across Louisiana, who are working each day to make a difference in the lives of our communities, state, country and world through innovative products, value-added processes, and economic impact.
Dr. Willie E. Smith, Sr.
, Acting Director