The WMEP hosted a Best Practices Day on April 14th, engaging 47 people from six MEP centers, across five different states, including guests from as far away as North Carolina and Alabama. The gathering allowed center staff to hear about breakthrough initiatives, discuss common issues, learn about different business models, and work on specific, multi-center projects. Most importantly, it was an opportunity for MEP center staff to connect with others who are also passionate about manufacturing!

The group session included overviews of two potential breakthrough initiatives. Larry Blackledge, UW-Stout Manufacturing Outreach Center, talked about GLaM-TAC, the Wisconsin edition of the Manufacturing Technology Acceleration Center (M-TAC) pilots. Randy Bertram, WMEP, discussed sustainability and the initiative to make this a system-wide offering. Anna Mangum, North Carolina, and Dana Stone, Alabama, also added their expertise to the subject.

The meeting featured two sessions of breakout groups discussing and sharing knowledge on topics that all of us face. Breakout sessions included: Innovation Cycle, Advanced Talent Management, Supply Chain Initiatives, Global Engagement, CRM Uses, Business Development, Sustainability, Technology Scouting, Impact Identification Process, and Center Marketing.  Each of these sessions was led by a center practitioner and involved a brief set up to the topic, followed by a facilitated discussion. This format and the relatively small groups allowed for great conversations about what works best for each center.

The multi-state E3 group also met to work on a collaborative approach to sustainability, focusing on the similar ways the three models operate; using that understanding and the learning gathered along the way to begin to formulate a flexible approach that can be used effectively by other centers. Some of the results of this session will be shared at the MEP Update meeting in May.

The day was a terrific opportunity to hear about new initiatives, discuss ongoing efforts, and have open discussions about issues affecting many MEP centers. Most importantly, it allowed staff to make personal connections with other true believers in the MEP system. Together, we can make a huge difference for American manufacturing!