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The Department of Commerce (DOC) recently received accolades from a high-ranking duo of senators for their work improving the state of federal programs designed to aid smaller manufacturing companies. Senators Mary Landrieu (D-LA) and Olympia Snowe (R-ME), chair and ranking member of the Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship, respectively, issued a joint statement voicing their enthusiasm for the DOC's efforts.

"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," said the senators. "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 [Mary] 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 move to improve federal programs began with a letter sent in early March 2009 by both Landrieu and Snowe to the DOC, the Department of Labor and the Small Business Administration (SBA) that requested a concerted effort on the part of all three agencies to enhance coordination in several of the country's hardest hit manufacturing communities. Acting Assistant Secretary Saunders, whose specific responsibilities focus on manufacturing and services, responded in another letter last week, outlining the steps taken to comply with the senators' demands. One notable change included adding an updated and expanded list of the programs available to assist small manufacturers on the DOC's website, which would increase visibility and make it easier for smaller firms to use them to their full advantage.

Dialogues have also been opened up between the coordinators of the federal manufacturing assistance programs and with the manufacturing community at large to foster greater public-private collaboration on policy. Saunders' letter also noted that the International Trade Administration has continued to work with the federal government to promote exports and overseas investment, work for fair trade and increase compliance with international trade agreements.

Jacob Barron, NACM staff writer. Follow us on Twitter at http://twitter.com/NACM_National.


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