Manufacturing Jobs

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One federal program has been providing valuable assistance to stateline companies for years, but federal funding could be cut and Wisconsin U.S. Sen. Herb Kohl is speaking out.

Cotta Transmission Company has been a fixture in the stateline for nearly a century, manufacturing gear boxes for various industries. As the small company continues to grow, one federal initiative, the Manufacturing Extension Partnership Program, or MEP, is helping Cotta retain a competitive edge.

"We've been doing it for over four years. [It] helps us become more successful with our initiatives," says Cotta Transmission Company President Matt Mondek.

But the program is in danger. The Bush administration's proposed budget would fund MEP at only $46 million, drastically cutting the program from $112 million. Democratic U.S. Sen. Herb Kohl made a stop at Cotta, professing his support and discussing the virtues of the program.

"This is one program that deserves to live," says U.S. Sen. Herb Kohl.

MEP is made up of more than 60 centers across the country that provide assistance to small manufacturers. Since 1996, Wisconsin MEP has helped more than 1,300 Wisconsin manufacturers, including Cotta Transmission, improve their productivity and profitability.

Sen. Kohl has led a bipartisan group of senators in a fight to fund MEP. Kohl says manufacturing is one of the state's most important economic components, and full MEP funding needs to be saved.

"We're trying to recover, and this is a program that is directly centered on recovery of jobs and success of manufacturing. It does deserve our support, and not on the basis of theory, but on fact," says Kohl.

Kohl hopes that by bringing attention to the program, Congress will bring back the funding and allow companies like Cotta to stay competitive.