Small businesses engaged in manufacturing, typically those with 500 or fewer employees, comprise about 90 percent of all U.S. manufacturers and employ 6 million workers. Recent studies have shown that small manufacturing businesses face a number of challenges in their efforts to remain competitive, including the inability to obtain operating and investment capital, a lack of familiarity with new business practices, and difficulty in finding independent advice and skilled employees. To help these businesses overcome such challenges, many federal agencies provide financial and nonfinancial technical services through targeted or general programs or create interagency work groups to better coordinate their efforts and more effectively support these businesses. In this context, GAO identified (1) federal programs that provide services to support small businesses engaged in manufacturing and (2) federal interagency efforts that focus on issues of concern to small manufacturing businesses. To identify these programs and efforts, GAO obtained documentation from 19 federal agencies. In commenting on a draft of this report, 18 of the 19 agencies made technical comments that we have incorporated as appropriate. GAO is not making recommendations in this report.
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