President Obama took his pitch for supporting American manufacturing to the swing state of Virginia on Friday, announcing that his administration will fund a $45 million pilot institute for manufacturing research and development.
“We’re not going to wait. We’re going to go ahead on our own,” Obama said. “Later this year, we’re going to choose the winner of a competition for a pilot institute on manufacturing innovation.”
The president set aside $1 billion for a network of 15 so-called innovation centers across the country in his 2013 budget, a budget that is reliant on congressional approval. The proposed network of institutes would bring together government, industry, and universities as collaborative partners, Obama said, to create innovation hubs.
The president said that the centers would help make new manufacturing technologies accessible to small and midsized businesses, which often don’t have the resources to finance such research on their own. “It’ll create jobs and it’ll keep America in the manufacturing game,” Obama said of the proposed network.
Obama delivered his remarks at the Rolls Royce-Crosspointe campus in Prince George County, a campus that exemplifies the Obama administration's vision for American manufacturing: it's high-tech, and focused on both research and job-skills training.
Together with a facility that produces jet-engine components, the campus will soon be home to an applied research center, a partnership between government, universities and manufacturers. Rolls-Royce has also partnered with a local community college to design workforce training.
The pilot institute would focus on developing technologies -- like lightweight carbon composites or 3-D printing — and training workers, the White House said. The money would come from existing funds allocated to the Defense, Commerce and Energy departments and the National Science Foundation.