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President Obama on Wednesday announced the manufacturing institute at North Carolina State University, which will lead the consortium of 18 companies and six universities behind the effort.

Carolyn Kaster • Associated Press,

With eye on jobs, President Obama rolls out first manufacturing institute

  • Article by: Mark Landler
  • New York Times
  • January 15, 2014 - 6:21 PM

President Obama, seeking to fulfill a pledge from his last State of the Union address before his next one in two weeks, traveled to North Carolina on Wednesday to announce the establishment of a manufacturing institute to help create well-paying jobs.

A consortium, led by North Carolina State University and made up of 18 companies and six universities, will use advanced semiconductor technology to develop a new generation of energy-efficient devices for automobiles, consumer electronics and industrial motors.

It is the first of three such institutes the president announced and will be financed by a five-year, $70 million grant from the Energy Department. The grant will be matched by money from consortium members, including the equipment manufacturer John Deere and Delphi, an auto-parts maker.

The president also toured a North Carolina research and development center for Vacon, which makes drives that are used to control the speed of electric motors to increase their efficiency.

The establishment of a manufacturing institute in North Carolina showcases the White House’s determination to press ahead with jobs programs, with or without Congress.

But it also lays bare the limits of Obama’s authority, since Congress has stymied more ambitious proposals that would require legislation. In his State of the Union address last February, the president announced a $1 billion plan, modeled on one in Germany, to create a network of 15 institutes that would develop new industries.

But setting up 15 institutes would require congressional authorization. So last year, Obama narrowed his focus to three institutes that could be established using existing funds and executive authority. At the same time, he increased his long-term goal to 45 institutes over 10 years.

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