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Obama proposes manufacturing initiatives

  |   May 9, 2013 at 10:21 AM
WASHINGTON, May 9 (UPI) -- The White House on Thursday announced two business-friendly initiatives to coordinate U.S. manufacturing and manage federal data helpful to job creation.

The first plan calls for the creation of three new manufacturing "innovation institutes," with the aim of coordinating resources, including education, training and local infrastructure to assist in the creation of manufacturing businesses that provide new jobs.

The White House said the plan was to "build off the initial success" of the National Additive Manufacturing Innovation Institute, which began in Youngstown, Ohio, in 2012 with a $30 million federal grant and $40 million in contributions from the business community..

The aim of that institute is to help manufacturers across the "Ohio-Pennsylvania-West Virginia 'Tech Belt,'" coordinate various resources to assist in the creation of jobs in 3D printing, the White House said.

3D printing is a design innovation that uses a digital blueprint that "creates components by depositing thin layers of material one after another ... until the exact component required has been created."

The White House called on Congress to follow up on the projects by approving a one-time $1 billion investment "to create a network of 15 manufacturing innovation institutes across the country."

After their initial start up, the institutes are expected to be self-sustaining, the White House said.

Currently, the plan calls for creation of three new institutes -- one focused on "Digital Manufacturing and Design Innovation," another on "Lightweight and Modern Metals Manufacturing" and a third on "Next Generation Power Electronics."

The institutes will be selected from a competition for $200 million in funding made available through the Departments of Defense, Energy, Commerce, NASA and the National Science Foundation.

After that, Obama said he would pencil in $1 billion for the 2014 budget year for the Department of Commerce to create a National Network for Manufacturing Innovation as a central office for the innovation institutes.

In the second initiative, the White House said it would take several "groundbreaking steps," to make government data open to the public with the aim of providing information that could be useful for job creation.

"Information is a valuable national asset whose value is multiplied when it is made easily available tot the public," the White House said, announcing President Obama had signed an Open Data Policy as an executive order.

The initiatives include revamping Data.gov, a central online clearing house for government data and taking several other steps to make data more accessible.

The White House pointed to global positioning systems, once exclusively a military project, as a business segment that grew out of the release of government information.

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