Final MAS regional launch

Manufacturing Minister Alan Johnson has launched the final Regional Centre of Manufacturing Excellence in the East of England

. It represents the tenth centre to open in just over six months, completing the establishment of the Manufacturing Advisory Service (MAS) throughout England and Wales. Launched in partnership with the East of England Development Agency, the Manufacturing Advisory Service delivers practical, hands-on help and advice for small and medium-sized manufacturers on issues like new technology and best practice. A specialist team helps diagnose problems and provide tailored solutions through a quick enquiry service backed by trouble-shooting visits to companies. Customers can also take advantage of a dedicated website accessible through the DTI website This final Regional Centre of Manufacturing Excellence, based at Ford's largest research and design facility in Europe at Dunton in Essex, will help the 14,000 manufacturing enterprises across the region (98% of which are SMEs). Together, these manufacturing companies employ about 330,000 people and contribute about £13bn to regional GDP. Alan Johnson said: "The East of England Centre of Manufacturing Excellence is the last piece in the jigsaw for our national network. Today's milestone means hands-on support is now available for manufacturers as pledged in the Government's manufacturing strategy "Already about 750 client companies have experienced proactive as well as responsive diagnostic visits by our MAS advisors operating in the field. Some 4,000 manufacturers have made general use of the service whilst our web sites are currently receiving over 60,000 hits per month. The MAS will now be fully open for business across England and Wales. "But there is no complacency. With the first strategy for manufacturing in 30 years, change will not happen overnight. In developing the MAS we propose to practice what we preach and adopt a philosophy of constant improvement to meet the changing needs of users and ensure that British manufacturing never falls behind again. The challenges facing manufacturing are stark and the Manufacturing Advisory Service will provide a wide range of guidance and support both directly and indirectly to allow our businesses to compete in today's tough global market." The scheme is financed by the DTI with match-funding by the Regional Development Agencies and the Welsh Assembly, make a total investment of £28m.