Obama to announce $390M funding to boost manufacturing

President Obama on Thursday will announce some $390 million in new public and private spending designed to boost manufacturing and apprenticeship programs during a meeting with his export council.

The president will announce $290 million in the opening competition for two new “manufacturing innovation hubs,” the latest in a series of institutes designed to bring together private companies, universities and federally backed researchers in a bid to spur job creation.

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The funding, equal parts federal dollars and private investment, will underwrite the creation of a smart manufacturing hub run by the Department of Energy and a flexible hybrid electronics hub run by the Pentagon. They will be the seventh and eighth such institutes launched during Obama’s presidency.

The White House has found the money for the projects within the existing federal budget, but Obama has asked for funding to create 45 such institutes, based on similar public-private partnerships in Germany, in his budget proposals. 

Republicans have been reluctant to embrace the president's plan, saying they prefer to spur tax growth with trade expansion and tax reform. In response, the president has vowed to use executive action to fund at least 15 of the hubs.

He will also announce he’s opening up competition for $100 million in Labor Department grants for apprenticeship programs.

And he’ll use the meeting with top corporate executives, including Boeing CEO Jim McNerney and Xerox CEO Ursula Burns, to renew his call for corporate tax reform. The panel advises the president on improving U.S. trade performance, and the president has said he hopes he can work with the new Republican Congress on both simplifying the corporate tax code and brokering new international trade deals.

In a statement issued Wednesday night, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellSenate passes 0B defense bill Overnight Health Care: New GOP ObamaCare repeal bill gains momentum Overnight Finance: CBO to release limited analysis of ObamaCare repeal bill | DOJ investigates Equifax stock sales | House weighs tougher rules for banks dealing with North Korea MORE (R-Ky.) said Obama has an “opportunity to work with the incoming Congress” on trade.

“He could actually deliver on an area where Republicans and the White House agree: expanding export opportunities for American goods and services through increased trade,” McConnell said. “It is our hope that the President will find a way to bring his party on board with trade legislation that would give the administration the tools it needs to expand opportunities for American workers through increased exports.”