Innovation and industry tend to cluster around educational institutions. Silicon Valley is well-known, but it’s hardly the only center of excellence or example of collaboration in the U.S. For example, the Vermont Manufacturing Extension Center, or VMEC, is part of public-private partnerships across all 50 states and Puerto Rico.
Multinationals in populous states such as California or New York may receive media and investor attention, but small businesses employ 48% of the U.S. workforce, according to the U.S. Small Business Association.
The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) established the Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP) to help small and midsize enterprises improve productivity, be competitive globally, and be able to expand employment. VMEC provides training, business advice, and other resources for strategic and workforce development.
VMEC is a partner in our upcoming Robotics & AI Summit @ LiveWorx ’18, and Bob Zider, director and CEO of VMEC, responded to the following questions from Robotics Business Review:
When was VMEC established?
VMEC was established in 1995 and is the official representative of the MEP National Network™ in Vermont. Since that time, VMEC has been hosted by the Vermont State Colleges at Vermont Technical Center in Randolph Center, Vt.
How many manufacturers are in your state?
Using 2015 County Business Patterns (CBP) Update Year data, the number of Vermont companies in the state fitting the NIST MEP definition of manufacturing is 1,293.
What sorts of products do manufacturers in your state make, or what industry verticals do they serve?
Representing about 10% of Vermont’s GDP, the state has a diverse manufacturing base that includes a mix of sophisticated computer, electronic and electrical components; robust food, dairy and beverage products; manufactured and hand crafted wood/forest products, natural stone and metal products, military and aerospace products.
It also produces renewable energy and environmental products, machinery, plastics and composites products and assemblies, transportation equipment, instrumentation and software, world-renowned Vermont maple syrup, and much more.
How large are the manufacturers in your state, in terms of revenue and numbers of employees?
In terms of annual revenues, companies range in size from about $1 billion to small companies with revenues well under $100,000. Employee counts in Vermont manufacturing companies range from a high of approximately 4,000 full-time equivalents (FTEs) to a low of 1 FTE.
What are manufacturers in your state looking for in automation? What are some challenges they are hoping to address?
Knowledge and networking opportunities with innovative companies experienced in automation and related applications.
What does the VMEC hope to gain from a partnership with the Robotics & AI Summit?
We hope to gain new knowledge and find networking opportunities with experienced robotics and AI systems implementors and suppliers.