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Obama Says U.S. Must Foster Business-Friendly Climate

President Barack Obama said the U.S. must foster a business climate that will encourage job creation and that includes assuring that companies can draw on an educated workforce and that the federal debt is brought under control.

“In a world that is more competitive than ever before, it’s our job to make sure that America is the best place on earth to do business,” the president said at an Intel Corp. semiconductor manufacturing facility in Hillsboro, Oregon, west of Portland.

Obama is highlighting his administration’s policies that will put more money into education in science and technology to make sure the U.S. stays ahead of economic competitors. He praised Intel for having “placed its bets on America” by building plants in the U.S. and backing research and education.

Paul S. Otellini, president and chief executive of Intel, used the occasion to announce that the world’s largest chipmaker will spend $5 billion to build a plant in Arizona and will hire 4,000 employees in the U.S. this year. He echoed the president’s theme that money spent on education will help nurture workers who will “manage the industry of the future.”

Obama earlier named Otellini to the President’s Council on Jobs and Competitiveness. The council, headed by Jeffrey Immelt, chief executive of General Electric Co., the world’s biggest maker of jet engines, was formed last month to help generate ideas for fostering U.S. economic growth.

‘Same Team’

“We are all on the same team -- the American team,” said Obama, whose relationship with the business community was sometimes strained during his first two years in office.

The president joined Otellini for a tour of the Intel campus, site of the world’s most advanced semiconductor manufacturing plant, and was briefed on the company’s science talent search program for students.

Intel invokes STEM, an acronym for science, technology, engineering and math, as part of its education program. Intel conducts science contests and offers online resources for students from kindergarten to grade 12 to generate the next wave of innovators, according to its website.

Over the past decade, Intel and the Intel Foundation have invested more than $1 billion toward improving education, the White House said in a statement.

Intel rose 17 cents to $22.14 at 4 p.m. New York time in Nasdaq Stock Market trading. The shares had climbed 4.5 percent this year before today.

Agenda in Budget

The president’s agenda for education and innovation was part of the $3.7 trillion budget he sent to Congress on Feb. 14. The spending blueprint for the year that begins Oct. 1 calls for more money in innovation, education and technology while trimming spending in other areas.

He faces a fight with Republicans in Congress who say government spending must be cut to deal with the deficit, forecast to hit $1.6 trillion this year.

“To really get our deficit under control, we’re going to have to do more,” Obama said. “I want to work with both parties to find additional savings and get rid of excessive spending wherever it exists.”

Still, he said investments in education and innovation are too important to cut. “If we want the next technological breakthrough, that leads to the next Intel to happen here, in the United States, not in China or in Germany but here in the United States, then we have to invest in America’s research and technology,” he said.

Dinner With Executives

Obama was wrapping up a two-day West Coast trip to the San Francisco area and Oregon, soliciting support of technology leaders as part of his global competiveness agenda to create growth and jobs and cut the unemployment rate, currently at 9 percent.

Yesterday, in Woodside, California, north of Silicon Valley, Obama dined with technology executives including Apple Inc. Chief Executive Officer Steve Jobs, Facebook Inc. founder Mark Zuckerberg and Google Inc. Chief Executive Officer Eric Schmidt, among others, to discuss his innovation and economic policies.

The meetings today in Oregon and yesterday in California also continued the president’s effort to rebuild ties to business after White House relations were strained amid the overhaul of health care and financial regulations.

Turning to Otellini

Obama has turned to Otellini, 60, for advice before. He was one of the chief executives at the White House on Dec. 15 for a conference on the economy, taxes, trade, regulation, education and competition. Otellini was also among the guests at the White House honoring the visit of Chinese President Hu Jintao on Jan. 19.

Intel’s microprocessors run more than 80 percent of the world’s personal computers. Rival Samsung is the biggest maker of memory chips. The two companies compete in the market for memory used in mobile products such as Apple Inc.’s iPad and iPhone.

Otellini joined the Santa Clara, California-based company in 1974 and became chief executive in May 2005. As a former manager of global sales and marketing, Otellini has set a goal of making portable wireless computing within reach anywhere. The company is also focused on “bringing the next billion people online with affordable computers tailored to their needs,” a White House statement said.

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