WASHINGTON – The United States Department of Commerce is working to improve the coordination of federal programs that assist small manufacturers. The improvements come in response to a March 4 letter U.S. Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship Chair Mary Landrieu, D-La., and Ranking Member Olympia J. Snowe, R-Maine, sent to the Departments of Commerce and Labor and the Small Business Administration requesting improved coordination in communities hit by manufacturing closures.

“With 33 percent of the jobs lost last year coming from the manufacturing industry, ensuring that small manufacturing companies have and know of the resources they need to survive and grow should be a top priority for our federal government,” Sens. Landrieu and Snowe said. “It’s good to see the Administration is taking this request for increased coordination seriously through a number of efforts. We look forward to working with Acting Assistant Secretary Saunders in guaranteeing that small manufacturers have the help they require to prevent further job losses and keep their doors open in difficult economic times.”

The agency’s Acting Assistant Secretary for Manufacturing and Services Mary Saunders, announced the improvements in a letter sent to the Senate Small Business Committee last week. One of the changes includes updating, expanding and posting on their website a list of manufacturing assistance programs to make them easier for small firms to navigate and identify. The Senate Small Business Committee also plans on posting this information on its website when it becomes available.

Additionally, Secretary of Commerce Gary Locke’s “one-stop-shop” initiative for manufacturers, set to begin at the end of the summer, will help business owners find and navigate the federal programs they need to keep their businesses open. Secretary Locke hopes more federal agencies will partner with him in this vital effort.

The agency has also opened dialogues amongst the coordinators of the Federal manufacturing assistance programs and they continue to work with the Manufacturing Council – a group of private-sector manufacturing executives that regularly advise the Secretary of Commerce on federal policies and programs – to foster greater public-private collaboration. Monthly meetings of the Interagency Network of Enterprise Assistance Providers also help improve coordination.

Lastly, in the area of international trade – a priority issue for both Sens. Landrieu and Snowe – the agency noted that the International Trade Administration works with the federal government to assist U.S. manufacturers by promoting exports and investment, working for fair trade and increasing compliance with international trade agreements.

To read the Department of Commerce’s letter sent to the Committee, please find it here: https://www.sbc.senate.gov/oversight/lettersin/2009/DOC_Response2_Manufacturing.pdf.

Please find the Senators’ March 4 letter here: https://www.sbc.senate.gov/oversight/lettersout/2009/03_04%20to-SBA-DOC-DOL-AgencyCoordination.pdf.