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Nonprofit helping manufacturers rebuild from devastation of Sandy

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New Jersey manufacturers slammed by Hurricane Sandy are finding relief from the nonprofit New Jersey Manufacturing Extension Program, which is connecting companies with critical resources — from roofers to electrical engineers — who can bring heavy machinery back online.

John W. Kennedy, NJMEP chief operating officer, said e-mails initially went out to 6,900 New Jersey manufacturers, and so far, NJMEP has worked directly with about 500 of them.

Gary Fails is president of City Theatrical, in Carlstadt, which manufactures lighting equipment for Broadway, television and film productions. Fails said during Sandy, NJMEP "helped us track down generators and get our power back on." He said several of the NJMEP staff "came here unasked and worked with us, just to help out."

NJMEP provides consulting services to manufacturers, to help them operate more efficiently and increase their revenues, so it has a large database of contacts in the state's manufacturing sector. Their Sandy outreach has so far identified firms with capacity to offer other manufacturers in machining, including computer-controlled manufacturing, welding, metal formation, injection molding and printing.

In several cases, a machine shop sidelined by Sandy moved work to another plant.

"If a shop is only running one shift, they will say, 'look, our machines are open, and if you can supply the people, you can do the work here, and we'll work out an agreement on the electrical use.' There has been some really positive give and take," Kennedy said.

So far, NJMEP has logged more than 2,400 problems, Kennedy said. Manufacturers that need help, and those with excess production capacity, storage, or transportation, can contact NJMEP at (973) 998-9801. Kennedy said NJMEP has been connecting companies with the state Business Action Center; power companies; disaster assistance from the Federal Emergency Management Agency and Small Business Administration; and with electricians, plumbers and machine repairers.

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