March 9th, 2012
02:57 PM ET
At the Rolls Royce jet engine facility in Prince George, VA on Friday, President Obama announced a new proposal to create a National Manufacturing Innovation Network meant to link industry stakeholders in a national conversation about best manufacturing practices. The cost of the president's new proposal is $1 billion, but the White House is committed to creating a pilot program using appropriated funds from various departments rather than waiting for Congress to approve funds requested in the president’s budget.
"Think of this as a place where companies can share access to cutting edge capabilities," Obama told a crowd of nearly 1,500 about the proposed manufacturing institute. "At the same time students and workers are picking up new skills. They're training on state of the art equipment. They're solving some of the most important challenges facing our manufacturers. You've just got all this brain power and skill and experience coming together in this hub."
According to the White House, the location of the proposed pilot program will be decided based on a competitive process and will cost $45 million. Funding will come primarily from the Departments of Defense, Energy and Commerce with some additional money provided by the National Science Foundation.
Obama's visit came on the same day the Bureau of Labor Statistics announced overall job creation for the month of February had exceeded analysts' expectations. The manufacturing sector alone added 31,000 jobs in February, a feat Obama lauded.
The Rolls Royce Crosspointe facility is already engaged in a program similar to the one proposed by the president. Set to open later this year, the Commonwealth Center for Advanced Manufacturing combines state resources with those of eight local companies – including Rolls Royce, three area universities and funding from the Commerce Department.
While commending Virginia's commitment to manufacturing, the president also continued his call for Congress to take up corporate tax reform meant to begin rewarding companies that create jobs in the United States rather than overseas. Additionally he asked Congress to commit to training 2 million Americans "with the skills that will lead directly to a job right now.
"We need Congress to act," the president said, to much applause. "It's true."