WASHINGTON Feb 13 When the Volvo manufacturing
plant shut its doors in Asheville, North Carolina, in 2010 and
moved more than 200 jobs out of state, it was time for Ben
Teague to go to work.
As the region's economic development officer, he worked with
state and local officials to advertise the town's skilled labor
force and offer the right mix of incentives to lure in a new
Now, Linamar Corp, a Canadian manufacturer, is
making engine blocks and wheel axles for giant mining trucks at
the plant, employing 150 people with a plan to expand to 650 in
"That's a huge piece of business for us," Teague said in an
The manufacturing turnaround that happened in Asheville is
something that President Barack Obama wants to spur in more
Obama, set to visit the Linamar plant on Wednesday, devoted
a sizeable portion of his State of the Union address to
describing how he sees manufacturing as a linchpin for expanding
good-paying middle class jobs.
"Our first priority is making America a magnet for new jobs
and manufacturing," Obama said in his Tuesday night speech,
urging Congress to support a plan to invest $1 billion in 15
manufacturing hubs across the country.
Obama said he would use executive powers to launch the first
three hubs, with the Defense and Energy departments partnering
with businesses, universities and community colleges to invest
in the training and development centers.
He also proposed to lower taxes for manufacturers to 25
percent from the current level of 35 percent and offer tax
breaks, while putting in place a minimum "offshoring" tax.
Obama will face headwinds in Congress for the plan from
Republicans, who believe government spending needs to be reined
in because of ballooning deficits. And critics from labor groups
were also underwhelmed by the plan.
"I saw no mention of his campaign pledge to create one
million new manufacturing jobs," said Scott Paul, president of
the Alliance for American Manufacturing, after Obama's speech.
The group represents the United Steelworkers union and some
LOVE IS GREAT, MONEY IS BETTER
Wednesday's visit will be Obama's fourth to the Asheville
area since he first ran for president in 2008. Most recently, he
started a bus tour in the community in October 2011 to try to
build public support for a jobs plan that Congress had rejected.
The attention showered on the town has been a great
promotion, said Hank Dunn, president of Asheville-Buncombe
Technical Community College, which has developed specialized
courses to help Linamar and other employers train workers.
But community colleges need government help to provide spots
for students and invest in their own infrastructure so they can
help train people to fill advanced manufacturing jobs, he said.
"We get a lot of love, and that's about it," Dunn said in an
interview in Washington, where he was meeting with lawmakers to
talk about community colleges. "You've got to follow it up with
Businesses are eager to see government investments as well,
said Jim Jarrell, president and chief operating officer at
While state and local governments in the United States offer
incentives, federal governments in Canada, Germany, Hungary and
China are adept at offering grants in exchange for meeting job
creation targets, Jarrell said.
"It's not a giveaway," Jarrell said in an interview. "It's
getting something in return."