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Obama travels to NC to rally support for jobs plan

  • Article by: JOSH LEDERMAN
  • Associated Press
  • February 13, 2013 - 5:05 AM

WASHINGTON - President Barack Obama is kicking off three days of travel to rally support for the job-creation and economic proposals he unveiled in his State of the Union address.

Obama will launch the effort Wednesday in Asheville, N.C., with a visit to Linamar Corp., a supplier of engine and transmission components that has expanded its manufacturing operations.

Linamar produces heavy-duty engine and driveline components. In 2011, the company announced that its fourth U.S. manufacturing facility would be at the site of a shuttered Volvo Construction Equipment plant in Asheville. The company has hired 160 workers and will hire 40 more by the end of the year, the White House said.

Obama will make stops in Atlanta on Thursday and Chicago on Friday.

In his speech before a joint session of Congress Tuesday night, Obama called job creation his "North Star." He asked Congress to focus on attracting jobs to the U.S., training American workers and boosting investments in infrastructure, manufacturing and clean energy. Obama also says he wants to raise the minimum hourly wage from the current $7.25 to $9 by the end of 2015.

In his bid to boost manufacturing, Obama is launching three "manufacturing innovation institutes" — partnerships among the private sector, the federal government and colleges "to develop and build manufacturing technologies and capabilities that will help U.S.-based manufacturers and workers create good jobs," according to a White House fact sheet. He is asking Congress to create 15 more institutes.

The proposal is a central element of Obama's plan to spur manufacturing, which has been a bright spot in the U.S. economy. Manufacturing expanded at a much faster pace in January compared with December.

The White House outlined other steps the administration says it will take to continue improvements in manufacturing, which it says added 500,000 jobs the last three years after shedding jobs for more than 10 years.

Among the steps:

_Reforming the business tax code to end tax breaks to ship jobs overseas.

_Expanding a program to help governors and mayors bring in business investment from around the world.

_Strengthening enforcement of trade laws and taking new steps to open markets in Europe and Asia.

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