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Business INSIGHTS e-News for Manufacturers

About the Author

Petra Mitchell

President and CEO
Catalyst Connection

  • 20+ years of experience in manufacturing operations and engineering, technology development and business development
  • Joined Catalyst Connection as a senior operations consultant, focusing on improvements in material flow, production planning and scheduling, facility layout, energy usage and setup reduction; named president in 2007
  • Member of the Regional Investors Council of the Allegheny Conference of Community and Economic Development and SMC Business Council; board member of the Pennsylvania Industrial Resource Center Network, American Small Manufacturers Coalition, Visiting Committee of Cleveland State University School of Urban and Public Policy, and Pittsburgh Branch of the Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland
  • Bachelor of Science in mechanical engineering, University of Dayton; Master of Science in engineering (concentration in manufacturing management), University of Cincinnati

American Manufacturing: The Next Generation

by Petra Mitchell
Catalyst Connection, A Manufacturing Extension Partnership Center

The Great Recession has waged on in this country for several years, but the economy has started to rebound and show new growth. It may be a surprise to some that manufacturing is leading much of this recovery. Did you think that manufacturing was part of America's past -- lost to cheaper foreign markets like China or Mexico?

A series of studies by the Manufacturing Performance Institute and American Small Manufacturers Coalition are tracking these successful businesses, or Next Generation Manufacturers. The Next Generation Manufacturing (NGM) Study conducted in 2011 reports that while most manufacturers recognize the importance of NGM strategies -- customer-focused innovation, employee engagement, process improvement, supply chain collaboration, sustainability and global engagement -- few have yet achieved world-class status in executing these strategies. Download the complete 2011 NGM Study executive summary.

The National Institute of Standards and Technology under the Department of Commerce has managed the Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP) program for more than 20 years to put more manufacturers on the path to NGM strategies. With more than 1,300 technical experts -- located in every state -- MEP centers served 33,838 manufacturers nationwide in 2011. Research confirms that projects with MEP centers resulted in $8.2 billion in increased and retained sales, $1.3 billion in cost savings and more than 60,000 new and retained jobs.

PNC Bank has partnered with the national MEP program and individual MEP centers to provide information and services to manufacturers in support of NGM strategies.

Catalyst Connection, A Manufacturing Extension Partnership Center
Catalyst Connection is an economic development organization dedicated to helping small and mid-size manufacturers in southwestern Pennsylvania improve their competitive performance. These manufacturers collaborate with our consultants to reduce costs, improve throughput and increase quality. While our consulting projects typically incorporate employee training, we also offer a full curriculum of stand-alone training sessions and workshops for individuals or groups. We administer financial programs, too, which often provide funding for equipment and machinery. Catalyst Connection also guides manufacturers to other loans and grants intended to fund capital improvements or leverage additional financing from other sources. For more information, visit catalystconnection.org or call Tom Reed at 412-918-4269.

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