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Chicago, Detroit To Host Manufacturing Tech Hubs

Obama announces Defense Department-led initiative that aims to boost manufacturing, add jobs.

President Obama has unveiled plans for boosting America's future via projects in Chicago and Detroit.

The projects, named "manufacturing innovation institutes," are public-private partnerships that are led by the Defense Department and are meant to boost America's manufacturing sector while adding jobs in the two cities.

In a White House speech Tuesday afternoon attended by Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Canton Township Supervisor Phil LaJoy (from a suburb of Detroit), the president outlined his plan to combine the forces of business and research to forge innovations in the two hubs. "We're connecting leading businesses and research universities," he said. "If we want to attract more manufacturing jobs to America, we want to make sure we're on the cutting edge of new manufacturing techniques."

The two institutes, which were preceded by two in Youngstown, Ohio, and Raleigh, N.C., will become regional hubs for R&D on products in specific categories. In Detroit, the focus will be on lightweight metals; in Chicago, it will be on digital manufacturing and design. As innovations are made, jobs will be added as member companies train workers to implement them. As a result, businesses will be attracted to the institutes for their cutting-edge manufacturing techniques. Everybody wins.

Well, sort of. The president made it clear that, though the two new institutes will be funded with $140 million of federal money and at least that much private-sector funding, that's a pittance compared to what he'd like to spend and achieve.

Read the rest of this article on Future Cities.