The terms used in this section have the meanings given the terms in section 278k of this title.
The Director shall establish, subject to the availability of appropriations, as a part of the Hollings Manufacturing Extension Partnership under sections 278k and 278k–1 of this title, a pilot program of expansion awards among participants described in subsection (c) for the purposes described in subsection (e).
Participants receiving awards under this section shall be Centers, or a consortium of Centers (as such term is defined in section 278k of this title).
The Director may reimburse Centers for costs incurred by the Centers under this section.
Applications for awards under this section shall be submitted in such manner, at such time, and containing such information as the Director shall require in consultation with the Manufacturing Extension Partnership Advisory Board.
The Director shall ensure that awards under this section are reviewed and merit-based.
The Director shall endeavor to have broad geographic diversity among selected proposals.
Recipients of awards under this section shall not be required to provide a matching contribution.
In making an award under this section, the Director, in consultation with the Manufacturing Extension Partnership Advisory Board and the Secretary, may take into consideration whether an application has significant potential for enhancing the competitiveness of small and medium-sized United States manufacturers in the global marketplace.
The Director shall ensure that the duration of an award under this section is aligned and consistent with a Center’s cooperative agreement established in section 278k(e) of this title.