Obama toured the Linamar North Carolina factory in Asheville, telling workers it's possible for areas devastated when manufacturers pulled out to come back, reborn as high-tech centers.
"We don't give up. We get up. We innovate. We adapt. We learn new skills. We keep going," Obama said. "And I just want everybody here to know ... as long as you're out here fighting every day to better your lives and to better the lives of your children, then I'll be back in Washington fighting for you."
In his State of the Union address Tuesday night, Obama called for the establishment of more high-tech manufacturing hubs. Wednesday he said doing so is among the "things we can do right now to accelerate the resurgence of American manufacturing."
"Last year, my administration created our first manufacturing innovation institute," Obama said. "We put it in Youngstown, Ohio, which had been really hard-hit when manufacturing started going overseas. And so you have a once-shuttered warehouse -- it's now a state-of-the art lab where new workers are mastering what's called 3-D printing, which has the potential to revolutionize the way we make everything.
"That's the future. And there's no reason that those same kinds of projects can't take root in other cities and towns."
Another key, Obama said, is to attract new investment and help workers retrain to meet the needs of new industries.
"If there is a job open, we should train those folks right away, so that they can do the job," he said. "And that's why I'm proposing a national goal of training 2 million Americans with skills that will lead directly to a job."
En route to Asheville, White House spokesmen Jay Carney told reporters Obama is confident the "right proposal" can make its way through Congress, considering the level of support from the business community.
In his State of the Union address, Obama also pledged to fight for a higher minimum wage -- $9 an hour from $7.25 an hour by the end of 2015.
"This single step would raise the incomes of millions of working families," he said. "It could mean the difference between groceries or the food bank, rent or eviction, scraping by or finally getting ahead."
Asked why Obama's Tuesday night proposal was less than the $9.50 he proposed during the 2008 campaign, Deputy White House spokesman Jason Furman said Wednesday Obama "takes a comprehensive approach." Furman said the $9 figure takes into account the changes in the tax code the administration has been able to secure, which he estimated total 75 cents an hour for a full-time, minimum-wage worker.
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