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Manufacturers seem set to rush onto the Internet en masse. Less than a third of the companies surveyed earlier this year by the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) now have an e-commerce strategy in place. However, most of the don't-haves say they will have one by yearend. To welcome the e-emigrants, several sites have sprung up in recent weeks. Among them:

-- Manufacturing Central ( Sponsored by the NAM, whose 185,000 member companies span 300 industrial sectors, this online hub will have many spokes, each focused on a particular industry or class of product. The individual marketplaces will feature the usual supplier catalogs plus trading-exchange software that handles requests for prices and quotes (RFPs and RFQs). Manufacturing Central, says NAM President Jerry J. Jasinowski, "is run by manufacturers for manufacturers."

-- ( Funded to the tune of $40 million by three buyout specialists making a foray into e-commerce, this new venture offers automated RFP/RFQ negotiations between buyers and prequalified suppliers. The automated software appeals to small companies in particular, but such heavyweights as Ford Motor Co. and Simmons Mattress Co. have struck deals at

-- from Textron Financial Corp. ( This business-to-business startup offers three specialized sites for selling surplus goods. One is for industrial gear, another is for excess inventories, and a third deals with commercial real estate. Textron says AssetControl will be open in the second quarter.Edited by Otis Port

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