The New Jersey Manufacturing Extension Program (NJMEP) was named the recipient of a grant worth $992,050 by the U.S. Department of Commerce National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) Hollings Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP). The grant will allow NJMEP to assist the MEP National Network in creating a platform for MEP Centers nationwide to deliver services in Quality, Safety and Efficiency, along with other core MEP products and services (e.g., cybersecurity, supply chain) to food manufacturing companies throughout the USA and Puerto Rico.
NJMEP is recognized as a MEP ‘Center of Excellence’ in Food Safety Training and is ranked among the top performing centers in the country. NJMEP will work with the MEP National Network to build regional hubs in five (5) regions in which MEP Center leaders have expressed interest and coordinate growth in food manufacturing products/services. NJMEP will help develop a set of minimum technical and operational specifications for these MEP Centers to earn recognition as a Quality, Safe, Efficient (QSE) Food Industry Network Hub. NJMEP and the MEP Nation Network will also work with national food manufacturers and their supply chains to deliver much needed services and training.
The five (5) regional hubs will offer support to other regional MEP centers where they can receive sales support, have access to tools and resources including assessments, training materials and implementation resources and serve as a regional training center for needed food safety training. Training will include online curriculum created by NJMEP and offered through County College of Morris (CCM), as well as MEP’s traditional in-plant services.
The establishment of a Comprehensive Food Industry Program within the MEP National Network will increase the technical capabilities and capacity of MEP Centers to deliver more projects to food manufacturers, and to more effectively serve global and national companies that operate supply chains across multiple states.
“We are excited to expand our work nationally with other MEP Centers and appreciate that NIST MEP has seen the great importance of engagements with food manufacturers on a national scale,” said John W. Kennedy, CEO of NJMEP. “Our services address manufacturing priorities through the creation and use of tools and resources that provide food manufacturing leaders with a clear roadmap and actions,” adds Kennedy.
The training will improve the competitiveness of industries in regions served by MEP Centers. “It addresses the Quality, Safety and efficiency needs of food manufacturers; expands MEP Center market share in food manufacturing; and promotes other MEP Center core product and service lines that increase the economic vitality of the food manufacturing supply chain,” says Robert Salamone, Director of Vertical Engagements, NJMEP. “These centers will then be ready to effectively engage with food manufacturers within their states,” adds Salamone.
NJMEP will also be able to scale the newly USDOL approved Food Production Safety Technician apprenticeship through the Pro-Action Education NetworkTM to the more than 1,100 food manufacturers throughout New Jersey. This program focuses on food manufacturing, process standards, quality control and food production compliance.
Pro-Action Education NetworkTM includes US-DOL approved apprenticeship programs (Technical Sales, Industrial Manufacturing Production Technician, Food Production Technician and Cybersecurity), Train-the-Mentor, on the job training, and career advancement training; as well as the Food Training programs that have received national support from National Institute of Standards Technology (NIST-MEP). The National NIST-MEP Network alone provides a 14.4:1 Return on Investment nationally and 15.3:1 in New Jersey.