Updated 7:52 pm, Wednesday, April 22, 2015
WASHINGTON -- Rep. Elizabeth Esty cited a Danbury manufacturer Wednesday in her unsuccessful bid to restore full funding for a federal initiative to aid businesses that are a source of high-tech jobs in Connecticut and elsewhere.
Hologic, which produces state-of-the-art digital imaging for mammography uses, saved nearly $300,000 and generated $80 million in projected new sales after working with Connecticut's Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP) affiliate, CONNSTEP.
The collaboration, Esty said at a meeting of the House Science, Space & Technology Committee, helped the company "to improve product flow and streamline their floor layout."
Esty on Wednesday offered an amendment to fully fund the federal MEP program, administered by the U.S. Department of Commerce's National Institute of Standards and Technology.
Esty's proposal of $141 million for MEP was $16 million more than what was offered from the committee's Republican chairman, Rep. Lamar Smith, R-Texas. The GOP-dominated committee voted down Esty's amendment, saying it would exceed spending caps established by Congress in the Budget Control Act of 2011.
CONNSTEP, Esty told the committee, "has been a trusted advisor for our small and medium sized manufacturing companies looking to maintain and grow their business." The affiliate's motto is "Accomplish more. Waste less. Improve, always."
Rocky Hill-based CONNSTEP is one of 50 federally designated manufacturing partnerships, one in each state. Each represents an alliance between the federal government and public or private entities, including state governments, colleges and universities, and nonprofits, according to the MEP website.
In the last five years alone, Esty said, CONNSTEP has collaborated with 450 businesses in Connecticut, resulting in nearly $1.4 billion in economic impact across the state. CONNSTEP's website said its advice-giving resulted in $108 million in increased sales and $81 million in cost savings for Connecticut businesses over the previous two years.
"Connecticut has a proud tradition of manufacturing going back to the days of Eli Whitney," Esty said in an interview outside the committee room on Capitol Hill.
Although it has fallen on hard times in recent decades, manufacturing remains a source of good-paying middle-class employment.
"It's important for our state to expand manufacturing jobs," Esty said.
Growing the high-tech manufacturing base and keeping employers supplied with skilled workers has been an Esty calling card since she was elected to the House in 2012.
Last month, she hosted Department of Labor Deputy Secretary Christopher Lu on a tour of Henry Abbott Technical High School in Danbury. They met with students who Esty described as "excited about manufacturing careers in the state and...eager to build their skills and enter the workforce.''
Connecticut hosts 5,000 manufacturers who employ nearly 170,000 people and generate more than 12.7 percent of the state's GDP, according to CONNSTEP's website, www.connstep.org.