A day after President Obama took another step toward engaging his Republican presidential rivals more directly, he will bring his re-election message to the heart of an important battleground state that Democrats are focusing on for the fall.

Obama is scheduled to tour a manufacturing company in Mount Holly, N.C., about 20 minutes outside Charlotte, the city where Democrats will hold their nominating convention in early September.

Obama will deliver remarks at the Daimler Trucks plant as he continues to push his State of the Union agenda to build a stronger economy. The president will highlight the plant’s hiring of 1,000 workers in 2011, including many who previously had been laid off, after production ramped up to meet increased demand.

Obama also is expected to continue talking about his energy policies aimed at reducing American dependence on foreign oil. The White House said the president will announced new tax credits for vehicles that use advanced technologies — from the current amount of $7,500 to $10,000 --and a $1 billion grant program for up to 15 communities that seek to support the widespread use of advanced vehicles.

The trip comes on the heels of Obama’s feisty news conference Tuesday when he chided his GOP rivals on a range of policy issues, including Iran’s nuclear weapon program, women and contraception and immigration.

The Democratic National Committee chose to base its convention in Charlotte to drum up excitement in North Carolina, a state that Obama won in 2008 by about 14,000 votes over John McCain. But the president lost the county where he will be speaking on Wednesday, capturing 37 percent of the vote compared to McCain’s 62 percent.

The Democratic delegates will gather in Charlotte from Sept. 3-7 to nominate Obama for a second term.