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President Obama Announces $400M for Manufacturing Hubs and Skills Training

This week President Obama made some major announcements that will help create new, 21st century job opportunities for American workers in high-demand sectors.

Specifically, President Obama launched two new competitions for manufacturing and innovation institutes, one in smart manufacturing at the Department of Energy, and one in flexible hybrid electronics at the Department of Defense. Each institute will receive $70 million or more of federal investment to be matched by at least $70 million from the private sector, for a total of more than $290 million in new investment.

This announcement fulfills the President’s 2014 State of the Union pledge to launch four new institutes this year, for a total of eight institutes launched so far, and puts the Administration past the halfway mark on the President’s original goal of creating 15 manufacturing innovation institutes supported through executive action. These institutes are critical to ensuring the United States maintains its global leadership in innovation.

The Department of Commerce is committed to the President’s vision of creating a full national network of up to 45 manufacturing institutes over the next 10 years, which will require Congress to pass legislation. Secretary Pritzker has advocated for the passage of pending bipartisan legislation that would establish NNMI. Specifically, the Revitalize American Manufacturing and Innovation (RAMI) Act would create a network of up to 15 regional institutes nationwide. The legislation will also encourage partnership and regional collaboration between communities, the private sector, academia, NGOs, and needed supply chains in order to bring ideas from the lab to market.

NNMI would play a critical role in boosting America’s industrial competitiveness by supporting innovative technology development. Support for this network of industry-driven commercialization hubs will help strengthen U.S. innovation and competitiveness, two key priorities of the Commerce Department’s “Open for Business Agenda.”  

Another key focus of the Department of Commerce’s Agenda is skills development, or ensuring that America’s workforce is trained to take on 21st century jobs. This week President Obama also announced that the Department of Labor will run a $100 million American apprenticeship grants competition. The program aims to spur partnerships between employers, local governments, labor and training providers to expand apprenticeships into high-growth fields like advanced manufacturing. Apprenticeships are a proven path to the middle-class, as 87 percent of apprentices are employed after completing their programs with an average starting wage of over $50,000.

Secretary Pritzker is committed to supporting industry-driven skills training. Earlier this week, Secretary Pritzker and Labor Secretary Tom Perez visited Maryland’s Montgomery College to learn how a federal grant is helping equip students with skills to get local jobs in cybersecurity. While there, Secretary Pritzker participated in a roundtable with representatives from Maryland’s community colleges, state and local officials, and employers serving as partners through this consortium to discuss how important the issue of skills development is for America’s workforce and businesses.

The Commerce Department will continue promoting initiatives like advanced manufacturing hubs and skills training to ensure America remains competitive in the 21st century global economy.

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