"The reason we're here is because wherever Americans are doing big things that can help build our middle class and grow our economy and extend opportunity to everybody, I want to be here to lift it up and figure out how we can promote more of it."
Those were the President's words today when he stopped by Clinton, Tennessee to announce the country's newest manufacturing innovation hub.
As he said in his remarks, manufacturing was the essential ingredient for decades in building America's middle class:
You punched in, you made something you were proud of -- Made in America, shipped everywhere around the world -- and as a consequence, you were able to take home a good paycheck, could support your family, had good benefits. And it was a bargain that involved more than just building things; it reflected the values that this country stood for.
Over time, however, technology made some of our jobs obsolete, and other jobs went overseas as a result of globalization and additional foreign competition.
But when President Obama took office, one of his priorities was to ensure that America was competitive and an attractive place for businesses -- and that our country had a strong manufacturing sector and research and development sector.
"So we invested in clean energy, saved the auto industry, and today, factories are opening their doors at the fastest pace in almost two decades."
"Manufacturing is actually in its best stretch of job creation since the 1990s," the President noted. "It's added about 786,000 jobs over the past 58 months. Manufacturing is actually growing faster than the rest of the economy."
One way we can keep that progress going and build on it, the President said, is by growing the jobs of tomorrow through a national network of manufacturing hubs:
We’re launching these hubs around the country, and the concept is simple: We bring businesses, research universities, community colleges, state, local and federal governments together, and we figure out, where are some key opportunities for manufacturing in the future, how do we get out in front of the curve, how do we make sure everybody is working together.
And as a consequence, we're potentially able to get cutting-edge research and design to market faster, and businesses are intimately involved in the process of figuring out how these things can be applied in ways that are really going to boost the economy and, in some cases, create entirely new industries.
So these hubs are working on everything from 3D printing -- the idea that you can have some software and put in some materials and something pops out that actually works -- to flexible computer chips that can be woven into the fabric of your shirt.
The new manufacturing hub President Obama announced today will be led by the University of Tennessee-Knoxville, and will be home to 122 public and private partners that are coming together to develop materials that are lighter and stronger than steel.
As the President noted, these materials could help in the production of fuel-efficient cars, and longer wind turbine blades that produce more energy, or they could go into our aviation sector.
"Places like this are who we are. We create. We innovate. We build. We do it together."
"We’ve got the most dynamic economy in the world and we’ve got the best business people in the world and the best universities in the world," the President said. "Let’s put them all together and make sure they’re working to create more good jobs and more opportunity for the American people."