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End of the Road

Budget cuts mean program cuts, but these two programs are ones you may not miss.

This story appears in the August 2003 issue of Entrepreneur. Subscribe »

As part of the 2004 federal budget, two Department of Commerce programs, the Advanced Technology Program (ATP) and the Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP), may be eliminated. Historically, these programs have had strong support on Capitol Hill, where advocates claim the programs benefit small companies. The ATP, which has received more than $1.5 billion since 1990, is supposed to provide grants to support R&D at companies that might not win commercial funding, while the MEP oversees a nationwide network of centers to help manufacturers upgrade technology and human resources.

But do the programs really benefit small companies? Gary Weaver says yes. "We wanted to hire consultants to help us revamp our plants but couldn't afford to," explains the president of Timber Tech, a Cibolo, Texas, company that manufactures housing components. "The local branch of the MEP assessed our operations and helped us save tons of money. Before, the waste we created was sent to landfills, costing us $35,000 per year, but the MEP taught us to reprocess the waste and sell it as animal bedding."

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