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Obama Cites Youngstown, NAMII in State of Union
YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio – President Obama touched on a number of policy initiatives during last night's State of the Union Address ranging from job creation and clean energy to troop drawdowns and gun violence, but it was his shoutout to the National Additive Manufacturing Innovation Institute that caught the attention of the Mahoning Valley and lawmakers who represent the region.
The president, speaking before the joint session of Congress, cited the National Additive Manufacturing Innovation Institute as one way to accelerate a trend in manufacturing that is encouraging firms such as Caterpillar, Ford and Apple to bring back manufacturing from overseas.
“Last year, we created our first manufacturing innovation institute in Youngstown, Ohio,” Obama said a few minutes into his annual address. “A once-shuttered warehouse is now a state-of-the art lab where new workers are mastering the 3D printing that has the potential to revolutionize the way we make almost everything. There’s no reason this can’t happen in other towns.”
Obama then announced the launch of three additional manufacturing hubs “where businesses will partner with the Department of Defense and Energy to turn regions left behind by globalization into global centers of high-tech jobs” and called on Congress to help create a network of 15 such hubs to guarantee that the “next revolution in manufacturing is made right here in America.”
U.S. Rep. Tim Ryan, D-13 Ohio, said he thanked Obama after the speech for mentioning Youngstown, and the president responded, “‘I love Youngstown.’”
“The future runs through Youngstown,” Ryan posted on Facebook and Twitter. “Building on the establishment of the NAMII, President Obama proposes an expansion of investment in manufacturing technology to revitalize the American economy. Ohio leads the way," he said.
“This is another affirmation of just how important NAMII is going to be, both in terms of creating new products and start-up companies, as well as helping our existing manufacturing base become more competitive,” said Barb Ewing, chief operating officer of the Youngstown Business Incubator, where NAMII is housed. “The Mahoning Valley is on the leading edge of an incredible technology that will change not only manufacturing, but the arts, fashion, transportation, medicine and a host of things we haven't even thought of yet. Everyone in our community should take a look at this technology to see what doors it can open for them.”
Ed Morris, NAMII's executive director, said it was an honor for the institute to be recognized during the president's speech. “It is rewarding to know that NAMII’s efforts to promote innovation and entrepreneurship within additive manufacturing is highly recognized and supported,” he remarked.
“This sort of investment in the middle class is how we can continue to create jobs and get our economy back on track,” said U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio. Earlier in the day, Brown announced he is working on legislation to establish a “National Network of Manufacturing Innovation” to create more hubs such as NAMII.
“Manufacturing is the key to our economic recovery and to good-paying middle-class jobs," Brown emphasized. "By establishing a National Network of Manufacturing Innovation, we can provide small businesses with access to the tools and expertise needed to compete in the global economy. We’re already seeing the success with Youngstown’s pilot program, and that’s why I’ve been working with small businesses, industry leaders, universities, and research institutions on legislation to create a NNMI.”
In a statement issued before Obama concluded his addressed, Ryan said, "[In northeast Ohio] we are already making the investments necessary for a 21st century economy” as the Tech Belt and NAMII “create new wealth and new jobs.“
The congressman, still uncertain if he will challenge Ohio Gov. John R. Kasich in 2014, sayd he saw “true leadership” from Obama.
“The president and I agree that we cannot simply cut our way to economic prosperity; he set forth a plan that will invest in manufacturing, infrastructure, clean energy, and education -- while not adding to our national deficit,” Ryan said. He applauded Obama’s “call to promptly deal with approaching fiscal deadlines through balanced solutions that includes both tax and entitlement reform. We cannot reduce our nation’s debt and deficit solely on the backs of our seniors and the middle class. Congressional Republicans need to join us at the table and help find realistic solutions to our nation’s problems.”
U.S. Sen. Rob Portman and Rep. Bill Johnson -- neither of whom took note of the president’s mention of Youngstown and NAMII in their statements issued following the speech -- viewed the address differently.
“This isn’t the first time we have heard from President Obama about plans to create jobs and rejuvenate the economy," said Portman, R-Ohio. "Unfortunately, his first term showed that speeches alone do not equate to meaningful action, and he has yet to lead and reach across the aisle to develop a serious plan to rebuild our economy and stem Washington’s out-of-control debt. Rather than laying out a pro-growth plan to spur our economy, he promoted the same big-government policies that have failed to get our economy up and running again. Instead of addressing the need to reduce Washington’s massive deficits by reforming important yet unsustainable entitlements, he proposed more taxes on job creators.”
Portman called on Obama to “get to work on actually governing” now that the election is over. “To do that, he needs to step forward, reach across the aisle, and work with Republicans to find common ground on policies that will reform our antiquated tax code and give our economy a shot in the arm,” he said.
Johnson, R-6 Marietta, lamented that he is “deeply concerned” about the president’s willingness to overcome America’s “serious challenges” of high unemployment, rising energy prices and “a surging federal debt driven by an our-of-control federal government.” Not once during the speech did the president mention America’s $16.5 trillion national debt as he proposed more spending, he said.
Instead of offering “a real plan” to stop the upcoming sequester, Obama “blamed Congress for his failure to lead” and instead of offering “real solutions” he called for more taxes that will stifle job creation, Johnson added. “His anti-energy policies continue to ignore America’s vast natural resources like natural gas and coal, and the millions of jobs that go with harvesting them. President Obama’s war on coal, and his rejection of a job-creating energy project like the Keystone XL Pipeline are perfect examples of his failed policies," said.
During his speech, the president said the natural gas boom -- of which the Mahoning Valley is becoming an emerging player -- has led to cleaner power and greater energy independence. That needs to be encouraged, he said, so his administration will continue cutting red tape and speed up new oil and gas permits. “That’s got to be part of an all-of-the-above plan. But I also want to work with this Congress to encourage the research and technology that helps natural gas burn even cleaner and protects our air and our water,” he said.
Johnson was not impressed.
“Instead of viewing Congress as an inconvenient obstacle, President Obama and his allies in the Democrat-controlled Senate should work as partners in progress with House Republicans to move America forward," his statement continued.
"The challenges that America faces are more important than partisan rhetoric that does nothing to create jobs and spur economic growth,” Johnson said. “And, threatening to restrict the 2nd Amendment rights of law-abiding citizens does little to address the culture of violence in America or improve the identification, diagnosis, and treatment of those with mental challenges.”
Copyright 2013 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.