Manufacturing Takes a Starring Role in President Obama's Sixth State of the Union Address

AP Photo/Charles Dharapak
Last night, President Obama delivered the sixth State of the Union address of his presidency on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC.  And the manufacturing sector took a starring role.

Here are some highlights of the manufacturing-focused portions of the speech - 

First, President Obama opened his speech by recounting some successes of recent years and crediting the American people.  "Here are the results of your efforts," he said.  Third on the list - "A manufacturing sector that’s adding jobs for the first time since the 1990s."  In addition, he said, "for the first time in over a decade, business leaders around the world have declared that China is no longer the world’s number one place to invest; America is."

"That’s why I believe this can be a breakthrough year for America," he said.  "After five years of grit and determined effort, the United States is better-positioned for the 21st century than any other nation on Earth."

Secondly, a little while into the speech, Obama returned to manufacturing saying, "We also have the chance, right now, to beat other countries in the race for the next wave of high-tech manufacturing jobs."  He noted that his administration has launched two hubs for high-tech manufacturing and announced the intended launch of six more this year.  He also explained that bipartisan bills already in both houses could increase the number of hubs and the number of jobs created.  "Get those bills to my desk," he demanded of Congress, "and put more Americans back to work."

As a side note, several articles published in recent days counted up Obama's promises in last year's SOTU and scored his accomplishments.  Many (including The Washington Post) noted last year's promise to launch three "manufacturing hubs, where businesses will partner with the Department of Defense and Energy to turn regions left behind by globalization into global centers of high-tech jobs.”  Further, the president asked Congress to "help create a network of 15 of these hubs and guarantee that the next revolution of manufacturing is made right here in America."  

Looking at the text of Obama's speech last night, we can see that only two hubs have yet been opened, but that bipartisan support exists to open more.

Finally, President Obama also used last night's speech to discuss the importance of developing a workforce with the necessary skills to compete in today's manufacturing sector.  Obama said that he has asked Vice President Biden to "lead an across-the-board reform of America’s training programs to make sure they have one mission: train Americans with the skills employers need, and match them to good jobs that need to be filled right now."  Specifically, Obama said, training programs should offer "more on-the-job training, and more apprenticeships that set a young worker on an upward trajectory for life."  Importantly, he said companies need to be connected to community colleges which "can help design training to fill their specific needs."

We were pleased to see manufacturing take center stage during last night's speech and hope the trend will continue into 2014.

You can read the full text President Obama's speech or watch a video on the White House website


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