Obama to promote manufacturing agenda in North Carolina visit

President Obama on Wednesday will travel to Raleigh, N.C., to promote his manufacturing agenda, in what the White House describes as the first of many efforts this year to leverage the private sector and nonprofits to boost the economy.

In the afternoon, Obama will announce on the campus of North Carolina State University that the school will lead a group of 18 businesses and six universities in establishing a new “manufacturing innovation institute,” the White House said. Before that announcement, he will tour Valcon, a firm that makes  technologies that modulate the speed of motors in a range of electronics to promote energy efficiency.

The event follows an announcement in last year’s State of the Union address that his administration would open three new manufacturing institutes, and he later pledged $200 million in existing federal money for the initiative. The North Carolina institute will be the first such institute; it will be funded by $70 million from the Energy Department and $70 million from nongovernment partners.

“Each institute is designed to serve as a regional hub designed to bridge the gap between applied research and product development, bringing together companies, universities and other academic and training institutions, and Federal agencies to co-invest in technology areas that encourage investment and production in the U.S,” the White House said in a statement. “This type of ‘teaching factory’ provides a unique opportunity for education and training of students and workers at all levels, while providing the shared assets to help companies, most importantly small manufacturers, access the cutting-edge capabilities and equipment to design, test, and pilot new products and manufacturing processes.”

The White House noted that manufacturing has been a strength for the economy, with companies adding 568,000 manufacturing jobs back into the economy after the steep fall that accompanied the Great Recession.

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