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GOVERNMENT HELP? DON'T LAUGH

 CLEVELAND, July 16 /PRNewswire/ -- No bureaucrat would ever dare utter the line, "Hi, I'm from the federal government and I'm here to help you!" so notorious has it become as perhaps the ultimate oxymoron. If a government person actually were to say it -- especially in the presence of a small-business owner -- the hapless fed might well be greeted with a quick boot out the door. To small business, government is an intrusive, bumbling entity as welcome as poison ivy.
 But at least one federal program aimed at helping small business shows promise of genuinely accomplishing positive results, notes IndustryWeek magazine in its July 19 issue. Not only is the effort generating praise from small companies, but also from analysts of America's manufacturing competitiveness. President Clinton is so enraptured with it that he is seeking to boost its funding from $18 million to $30 million in fiscal 1994 -- one of the largest percentage boosts sought for any line item in the federal budget. On top of that, he's asking for nearly $90 million for manufacturing-extension activities in the Administration's Defense Conversion Technology Reinvestment Project.
 The subject of all this adulation: the fledgling Manufacturing Technology Center program run by the Commerce Dept.'s National Institute of Standards & Technology. Now in its fourth year, the program was created by Congress to do for manufacturers what the agricultural- extension program -- regarded as one of Washington's most successful private-sector interventions -- did for small farmers in the 1930s. The aim: to transfer technology from federal laboratories, universities, and other research-oriented organizations to small and mid-sized businesses of fewer than 500 employees.
 The program operates through a network of seven regional centers, co-sponsored by the states or nonprofit institutions, that provide an array of services ranging from individual project engineering and training courses to help in selecting computer equipment and installing computer-aided manufacturing.
 "The federal government has always been geared toward taking care of the General Motors of the country, not little guys like me," declares one small-business owner. "But here is a government program that provides a very viable link with small manufacturers. I find it reassuring. The government does care."
 IndustryWeek is the management magazine for industry published by Penton Publishing.
 -0- 7/16/93
 /CONTACT: Chuck Day of IndustryWeek, 216-696-7000 or 216-521-3861 after hours/


CO: IndustryWeek; Manufacturing Technology Center ST: Ohio IN: PUB SU:

KL -- CLFNS1 -- 2307 07/16/93 07:31 EDT
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Date:Jul 16, 1993
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