Obama Eyes Investments In Technology Manufacturing

27.06.2011 -

President Barack Obama launched an initiative on Friday to develop new U.S. manufacturing jobs by teaming government up with companies and universities to invest more than $500 million in advanced technologies.

Obama visited the Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh to launch the Advanced Manufacturing Partnership, which aims to speed development of a new generation of American-made high-technology products.

The White House noted that major new technologies in the past were commercialized into vast industries with the help of government-university -company partnerships, including telephones, jet engines and the Internet.

It hopes for similar achievements by speeding development of new technologies such as next-generation robotics, advanced composite materials, small high-powered batteries and bio-manufacturing.

The program will leverage existing federal funds and future federal departmental budgets to invest with industry some $300 million to jump-start domestic manufacturing capabilities seen as critical to U.S. national security. Initial public-private investment areas include batteries, composites, metal fabrication, biotechnology and alternative energy.

"Today, I'm calling for all of us to come together — private sector industry, universities, and the government — to spark a renaissance in American manufacturing and help our manufacturers develop the cutting-edge tools they need to compete with anyone in the world," Obama said in a statement.

"With these key investments, we can ensure that the United States remains a nation that 'invents it here and manufactures it here' and creates high-quality, good paying jobs for American workers," Obama said.

Struggling Economy
Obama is rolling out the initiative as the U.S. unemployment rate remains at a stubbornly high 9.1% and initial claims for state unemployment benefits are ticking higher after months of decline.

The U.S. economy is struggling to gain traction against high energy prices, a still-depressed housing market, tight credit conditions and headwinds from Europe's debt crisis.

Until recently, one of the economy's brightest spots had been manufacturing, which had powered the recovery from its longest and deepest recession since the 1930s. Manufacturers have added about 129,000 jobs so far this year.

But manufacturing no longer has a dominant role in the U.S. economy, accounting for about 11.7% of gross domestic product and roughly 9% of total employment.

Both the Obama administration and business leaders would like manufacturing to become a mainstay again of the U.S. economy, and reverse the longtime trend of American companies moving production overseas.

The Advanced Manufacturing Partnership, to be led by Dow Chemical Chairman Andrew Liveris and Massachusetts Institute of Technology President Susan Hockfield, also aims to invest more than $100 million to help enable U.S. companies to discover, develop, manufacture and deploy advanced materials twice as fast as they are capable of today.

A further $70 million will be made available to support research into next-generation robots -- those that can work alongside human operators on the factory floor, in hospitals, on battlefields and in space.

The Department of Energy also will leverage existing funds and future budgets with an initial goal of investing $120 million to develop manufacturing and processes to reduce energy consumption in manufacturing.

Other manufacturers initially involved in the program will be Allegheny Technologies, Caterpillar, Ford Motor, Corning, Honeywell, Intel, Johnson and Johnson, Northrop Grumman Procter and Gamble and Stryker Corp.

The universities initially involved in the program will be MIT, Carnegie Mellon, Georgia Institute of Technology, Stanford University, University of California-Berkeley, and the University of Michigan.