Obama wants to show manufacturers some love and money

Wed Feb 13, 2013 9:10am EST
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By Roberta Rampton

WASHINGTON Feb 13 (Reuters) - When the Volvo manufacturing plant shut its doors in Asheville, North Carolina, in 2010 and moved more than 200 jobs out of state, it was time for Ben Teague to go to work.

As the region's economic development officer, he worked with state and local officials to advertise the town's skilled labor force and offer the right mix of incentives to lure in a new business.

Now, Linamar Corp, a Canadian manufacturer, is making engine blocks and wheel axles for giant mining trucks at the plant, employing 150 people with a plan to expand to 650 in coming years.

"That's a huge piece of business for us," Teague said in an interview.

The manufacturing turnaround that happened in Asheville is something that President Barack Obama wants to spur in more communities.

Obama, set to visit the Linamar plant on Wednesday, devoted a sizeable portion of his State of the Union address to describing how he sees manufacturing as a linchpin for expanding good-paying middle class jobs.

"Our first priority is making America a magnet for new jobs and manufacturing," Obama said in his Tuesday night speech, urging Congress to support a plan to invest $1 billion in 15 manufacturing hubs across the country.

Obama said he would use executive powers to launch the first three hubs, with the Defense and Energy departments partnering with businesses, universities and community colleges to invest in the training and development centers.   Continued...