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CONN/STEP survey indicates program has saved jobs (Released: 2/16/96)

by Richard Veilleux, Office of University Communications.

STORRS, Conn. -- A survey of the first 35 state businesses to receive assistance from the Connecticut State Technology Extension Program (CONN/STEP) indicates the University of Connecticut-based service last year saved or created more than 200 jobs, helped the firms increase sales by more than $4 million, and reduced their labor and material costs by nearly $1 million.

The survey covers just a fraction of the more than 450 manufacturers that CONN/STEP engineers and other specialists have helped since the program opened in 1994. According to a mid-year report, the program has offered more than 1,100 instances of technical assistance, worked on 118 formal projects, and produced 114 formal company assessments since opening.

"We estimate that a comprehensive survey of all clients would show about $20 million in increased sales; $20 million in capital improvements for technological modernization; $4 million in reduced labor and material costs; and about 1,000 additional jobs," said Peter LaPlaca, CONN/STEP director and a professor of marketing at UConn.

"We're excited about the impact of the CONN/STEP program and look forward to helping more Connecticut manufacturers increase their competitiveness."

CONN/STEP, managed by UConn's School of Business Administration and sponsored by the state Department of Economic and Community Development, is Connecticut's affiliate of the National Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP), a program designed to assist small and mid-sized manufacturers adopt leading-edge technology and process improvements. While capable of solving many technology problems through its staff of field engineers, CONN/STEP also serves as a link to outside service providers, both public and private.

The 450 manufacturers represent every corner of the state and a wide variety of businesses. They include fabricated metal manufacturers and producers of electronic equipment, industrial machinery, plastics, instrumentation and transportation equipment and supplies.

LaPlaca said the most common requests for assistance involved process improvements and computer system consulting, plotting effective plant layouts, improving products, and selecting materials.

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