* Speeding development of U.S.-made high-tech products
* Inventing it here, manufacturing it here
(Updates with Dow Chemical CEO remarks)
By Laura MacInnis
PITTSBURGH, June 24 President Barack Obama on
Friday launched an initiative to develop new U.S. manufacturing
jobs by teaming up government with companies and universities
to invest more than $500 million in advanced technologies.
Obama, who must ease high U.S. unemployment to be confident
of winning a second White House term next year, visited
Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh to launch the Advanced
Manufacturing Partnership, aimed at fostering a new generation
of U.S.-made high-technology products.
"This partnership is about new cutting-edge ideas to create
new jobs, spark new breakthroughs, reinvigorate American
manufacturing today. Right now," the Democratic president told
an audience of around 200 in a robotics laboratory.
The initiative does not involve new government spending and
Obama, who is fighting Republicans to raise the U.S. borrowing
limit, emphasized the need to curb the country's deficit and
debt, while investing in its future.
"If we want a robust growing economy we need a robust
growing manufacturing sector," he said. "I ran for president to
get us back to where we need to be. I have a larger vision for
The White House says major new technologies in the past
were commercialized into vast industries with the help of
government-university-company partnerships, including
telephones, jet engines and the Internet.
It hopes for similar achievements by speeding development
of new technologies such as next-generation robotics, advanced
composite materials and bio-manufacturing.
The program will leverage existing federal funds and future
federal departmental budgets to invest with industry some $300
million to jump-start domestic manufacturing capabilities seen
as critical to U.S. national security. Initial public-private
investment areas include batteries, composites, metal
fabrication, biotechnology and alternative energy.
Obama is rolling out the initiative as the U.S.
unemployment rate remains at a stubbornly high 9.1 percent and
initial claims for state unemployment benefits are ticking
higher after months of decline.
The U.S. economy is struggling to gain traction against
high energy prices, a still-depressed housing market, tight
credit conditions and headwinds from Europe's debt crisis.
Until recently, one of the economy's brightest spots had
been manufacturing, which powered the recovery from the
2007-2009 recession, the country's longest and deepest since
the 1930s. Manufacturers have added about 129,000 jobs so far
But manufacturing no longer has a dominant role in the U.S.
economy, accounting for about 11.7 percent of gross domestic
product and roughly 9 percent of total employment.
"We have not run out of stuff to make. We've just got to
reinvigorate our manufacturing sector so it leads the world
like it always has," Obama said. "We've launched an
The Advanced Manufacturing Partnership, to be led by Dow
Chemical Co (DOW.N) Chairman and CEO Andrew Liveris and
Massachusetts Institute of Technology President Susan
Hockfield, also aims to invest more than $100 million to help
enable U.S. companies to discover, develop, manufacture and
deploy advanced materials twice as fast as they are capable of
Liveris, an Australian native, said U.S. manufacturing
policy has long been marked by "benign neglect and atrophy."
"You have to work with government to understand what's
really causing us to be noncompetitive in certain sectors,"
Liveris told Reuters.
The jobs initiative will focus on ways to streamline
regulation, tax and energy policy, and foreign trade, Liveris
Dow is hiring in Michigan and Indiana to develop solar,
battery and agricultural products. The company, the largest
U.S.-based chemical maker, is also building new propylene and
ethylene plants in Texas.
Still, its Chinese revenue is growing faster than its
American revenue. Liveris has long said he will invest in
countries with favorable regulations.
"We need policy certainty and we need to understand what
the rules are," he said.
Other manufacturers initially involved in the program will
be Allegheny Technologies Inc (ATI.N), Caterpillar Inc (CAT.N),
Ford Motor Co (F.N), Corning Inc (GLW.N), Honeywell (HON.N),
Intel (INTC.O), Johnson and Johnson (JNJ.N), Northrop Grumman
(NOC.N), Procter and Gamble (PG.N), and Stryker Corp (SYK.N).
(Additional reporting by Lucia Mutikani and Ernest Scheyder
in New York; writing by David Lawder; Editing by Mohammad
Zargham and Paul Simao)