U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) announced a new bill that would create a US$30 billion revolving loan program to help small and mid-sized manufacturers retool for the clean energy industry. Brown’s bill would also expand the focus of the Hollings Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP) to include support for manufacturers transitioning to the clean energy economy.
Brown said that the U.S. manufacturing industry is critical to national security. He said it accounts for 12%– $1.6 trillion – of the U.S. gross domestic product (GDP) and nearly three-fourths of the nation’s research and development.
The Investments for Manufacturing Progress and Clean Technology (IMPACT) Act of 2009 would establish a $30 billion Manufacturing Revolving Loan Fund. States would receive funds for the establishment of revolving loan programs to assist small and medium-sized firms in retooling, expanding, or establishing domestic clean energy manufacturing operations, and improving energy efficiency.
The bill would also modernize the MEP, the federal-state partnership which provides support to small and mid-sized manufacturers. Currently, our nation’s 59 MEP centers receive slightly more than $100 million in federal funds each year, with states matching the federal contribution two-to-one. Brown’s bill would provide the MEP program with $1.5 billion in federal funds over five years to help manufacturers diversify to clean energy markets and adopt innovative, energy efficient manufacturing technologies.
Under the bill, the federal share of MEP funding would increase to 50 percent. Brown said that based on the MEP’s current average cost per consultation, the additional federal funding in the bill could enable MEP to reach at least 10,000 additional U.S. manufacturers each year.
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