WHITE HOUSE — President Obama flew to Austin, Texas, on Thursday to announce his latest steps aimed at boosting the nation's manufacturing sector and helping to create jobs.
Part of the president's "Middle Class Jobs & Opportunity Tours," his effort to generate public support for proposals to strengthen the economy and create jobs, Obama also spoke about the importance of education in boosting the economy.
He has pointed to what he calls a trend of U.S. companies bringing back manufacturing jobs from overseas, putting the economy in position for further progress in recovering from the recession.
Earlier this year, he urged Congress to invest $1 billion to create 15 manufacturing innovation hubs in areas of the country he says have been "left behind" by globalization.
The president used remarks at a high-tech factory to announce plans to create three new manufacturing innovation centers. The first was created in Youngstown, Ohio.
At Manor New Tech High School, he spoke about steps to reduce education costs and expand early education, saying young people are the key to a rising and thriving middle class.
"Our economy can't succeed unless our young people have the skills that they need to succeed," he said. "And that is what is happening here right at Manor New Tech. There is a reason why teachers and principals from all over the country are coming down to see what you are up to. Because every day this school is proving that every child has the potential to learn the real world skills they need to succeed in college and beyond."
The White House describes the innovation institutes as "teaching factories" where business, universities and government "co-invest" to encourage production and train students and workers.
According to Gene Sperling, chairman of the president's National Economic Council, collaboration is a key part of the initiative.
"You are seeing the pooling of research, of risk, and the potential for breakthroughs in manufacturing technology that only happen with us bringing everyone together," he said. "That no company alone would have the incentive to do on their own, but together they are willing to move forward on."
President Obama is asking for $200 million to support creation of the three new innovation centers.
But Sperling acknowledged to reporters that automatic government spending cuts known as the sequester, the subject of bitter debate across the country, could slow the initiative.
President Obama also signed an Executive Order directing federal agencies to make government information open and more accessible to the public. He says this will promote job growth, greater government efficiency.