Obama Directs $500 Million to Help Boost Manufacturing, Jobs

President Barack Obama said he’s designating more than $500 million to an effort with companies and universities to speed technology development, meet global competition and create jobs.

“With these key investments, we can ensure that the U.S. remains a nation that ‘invents it here and manufacturers it here’ and create high-quality, good-paying jobs for American workers,” Obama said in a statement released by the White House before he speaks later today at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh.

Andrew Liveris, chairman and chief executive officer of Dow Chemical Co. (DOW), and Susan Hockfield, president of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, will lead the Advanced Manufacturing Partnership to focus on investments in such areas as information technology, biotechnology and nanotechnology to help reduce manufacturing costs, boost quality and speed product development.

Ten other companies have signed up for the partnership: Allegheny Technologies Inc. (ATI), Caterpillar Inc. (CAT), Corning Inc. (GLW), Ford Motor Co. (F), Honeywell International Inc. (HON), Intel Corp. (INTC), Johnson & Johnson (JNJ), Northrop Grumman Corp. (NOC), Procter & Gamble Co. (PG) and Stryker Corp. (SYK)

Seventeen months before the presidential election, Obama is seeking to convince voters that his economic policies will help lead to long-term growth even as recent data shows the economy is slowing.

Slowing Growth

The Federal Reserve Board said June 22 that it lowered its forecast for economic expansion to 2.7 percent to 2.9 percent this year. That’s down from forecasts ranging from 3.1 percent to 3.3 percent in April. It’s the second time this year that Fed officials lowered their forecasts for growth.

Fifty-seven percent of respondents to a Bloomberg National Poll conducted June 17-20 disapproved of Obama’s efforts to create jobs. By 44 percent to 34 percent, Americans say they believe they are worse off than when Obama took office in early 2009, when the U.S. was in a recession and the economy was losing as many as 820,000 jobs a month.

Obama is announcing the effort in Pennsylvania, a swing state where the jobless rate of 7.4 percent in May wasn’t as high as the nation’s June rate of 9.1 percent.

The president on June 8 highlighted business partnerships with the community colleges as a way to prepare workers for future manufacturing jobs, and on June 13 in North Carolina he promised to reduce hurdles to job creation while embracing a plan to train 10,000 engineers a year.

Reviving Manufacturing

The manufacturing partnership announced today was recommended by the President’s Council of Advisers on Science and Technology. Ron Bloom, Obama’s manufacturing adviser, said the administration wants to create a renaissance in manufacturing similar to the way silicon technology triggered a revolution in computers.

The more than $500 million devoted to the plan will come from existing programs and proposals in government agencies, Bloom said. One area for investment involves a material genome initiative, where scientists can construct new materials at the molecular level and use computers to predict their characteristics, he said.

Basic Industries

“We’re going to have cars that are lighter and stronger,” and lighter airplanes that consume less fuel, Bloom said. Using such technology, “we can revitalize papermaking in America, and that’s about as basic an industry as you can get.” The same could be done for tire manufacturing, he said.

“Our goal is to use the Advanced Manufacturing Partnership to help make breakthroughs for the next decade and the decade ahead,” Bloom told reporters on a conference call yesterday.

Eric Lander, a founding director of the Broad Institute of Harvard and MIT and a co-chairman of the council of science advisers, said the use of federal funding doesn’t amount to having the government pick winner and losers. “We are not endorsing industrial policy,” he said.

Government research with private partners has led to development and commercialization of such products as the telephone, microwave, jet engines and the Internet, Bloom said.

Under the program, the government will put up about $300 million for research and development in high-powered batteries, advanced composites, metal fabrication and biomanufacturing, a White House statement said.

Another $100 million is earmarked for molecular research that will be focused on manufacturing, clean energy and national security; $70 million for next-generation robotics and $120 million for research the help manufacturers use less energy.

Beside MIT, the other participating universities include Carnegie Mellon, Georgia Institute of Technology, Stanford University, University of California-Berkeley and University of Michigan, the White House said.

To contact the reporters on this story: Kate Andersen Brower in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, at kandersen7@bloomberg.net; Roger Runningen in Washington, at rrunningen@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Mark Silva at msilva34@bloomberg.net

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