Obama announces new manufacturing hubs

WASHINGTON – President Obama on Tuesday announced the creation of two new Pentagon-led institutes modeled after the one in Youngstown to boost advanced high-tech manufacturing, with the eventual goal of creating jobs that have been lost to global competition.

As part of his year-old promise to expand public-private manufacturing partnerships across the country, similar to the initial program known as the National Additive Manufacturing Innovation Institute – or America Makes – in Youngstown, Obama announced a new center in his hometown of Chicago. The facilities concentrate on high-tech digital manufacturing and design.

A second hub will be located in Canton, Mich., outside Detroit, and specialize in light metal manufacturing.

“If we want to attract more good manufacturing jobs to America, we’ve got to make sure we’re on the cutting edge of new manufacturing techniques and technologies,” Obama said from the White House.

U.S Rep. Timothy J. Ryan, D-Howland, was at the White House when the president made the announcement. He said the plan is to boost advanced manufacturing, strengthen capabilities for defense and attract the types of high-quality jobs that a growing middle class requires.

“I am proud that America Makes, formerly the National Additive Manufacturing Innovation Institute, based in Youngstown, is serving as the model for future innovation hubs that will continue the growth in good-paying advanced manufacturing jobs,” Ryan said. “The manufacturing sector is growing again, and I join the President in pursuing policies and investments that will help expand our manufacturing base.”

Obama announced during his State of the Union address last year that he would spend $200 million to create the manufacturing hubs that bring together companies and universities for research and development of products. Obama said Tuesday that he could envision the creation of a sheet a metal as thin as paper and strong as steel that would be in demand by the military and private sector.

Obama made the announcement from a dais in the East Room that also held a supporting frame for a fighter jet, a helicopter engine, a robotic arm used by the Navy for underwater explosive disposal and a 3D printer. Obama joked that it seemed like he was standing among all that “cool stuff” to announce the creation of Iron Man.

“This has been a secret project we’ve been working on for a while,” he said with a chuckle. “Not really…”

In addition to the manufacturing hub pilot program in Youngstown, Obama last month announced the creation of another Energy Department-led hub in Raleigh, N.C. He encouraged Congress to approve funding for even more to keep up with global competition.

“I’m really excited about these four hubs. The only problem is Germany has 60 of them,” Obama said. “I don’t want the next big job-creating discovery to come from Germany or China or Japan. I want it to be made here in America.”