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Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Manufacturing a Star in Obama’s State of the Union Address

President Barack Obama addresses Congress and the American people during his State of the Union address, which gave included discussion of key manufacturing topics. Source: The White House

President Barack Obama addresses Congress and the American people during his State of the Union address, which gave included discussion of key manufacturing topics. Source: The White House

In his State of the Union address to Congress and the American people last night, President Barack Obama touched on several aspects of the American economy that concern manufacturers: tax reform, education, energy sustainability, and infrastructure repair.

After noting that legislators must come together to commit to tax and entitlement reform to help American business and manufacturers, the president focused on manufacturing:

“Our first priority is making America a magnet for new jobs and manufacturing. After shedding jobs for more than 10 years, our manufacturers have added about 500,000 jobs over the past three. Caterpillar is bringing jobs back from Japan. Ford is bringing jobs back from Mexico. And this year, Apple will start making Macs in America again.

“There are things we can do, right now, to accelerate this trend. Last year, we created our first manufacturing innovation institute in Youngstown, Ohio. A once-shuttered warehouse is now a state-of-the art lab where new workers are mastering the 3-D printing that has the potential to revolutionize the way we make almost everything. There’s no reason this can’t happen in other towns.”

The president went on to call for more of these manufacturing innovation hubs.

“So tonight, I’m announcing the launch of three more of these manufacturing hubs, where businesses will partner with the Department of Defense and Energy to turn regions left behind by globalization into global centers of high-tech jobs. And I ask this Congress to help create a network of 15 of these hubs and guarantee that the next revolution in manufacturing is made right here in America. We can get that done.”

The White House released a more detailed version of “The President’s Plan to Make America a Magnet for Jobs by Investing in Manufacturing,” which you can find here.

Industry response to Obama’s speech was generally positive.

The demographic most excited by the president’s remarks may have been 3-D printing enthuisasts, designers, and workers. Twitter was full of people impressed by the mention:

In a video response to the State of the Union address, the president of the Alliance for American Manufacturing, Scott Paul, said:

“We look forward to working with the president on his ideas for a network of innovation institutes for manufacturing and training more workers for manufacturing careers. But we’ll continue to remind the president of the need for bolder policies and stopping China’s cheating on its trade obligations.”

Additionally, news fact-checking website Politifact confirmed the numbers Obama stated about manufacturing jobs in the United States as “true.”

However, the president’s comments did not mollify those worrying over sequestration and layoffs by government contractors. As Council Director and Associate General Counsel Rae Ann S. Johnson of the Manufacturers Alliance for Productivity and Innovation (MAPI) wrote, “In the President’s State of the Union, he referenced several “manufactured crises” such as the fiscal cliff and sequestration.  Despite averting the cliff earlier in the year, it appears increasingly likely that on March 1 drastic across-the-board federal spending will be halted or significantly plummet.”

Brian Lane


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