Obama plugs hometown beer as he presses Congress to expand manufacturing institutes

McClatchy Washington BureauFebruary 25, 2014 

President Obama unveiled two new manufacturing innovation institutes in Chicago and Detroit on Tuesday, calling on Congress to expand them across the country.

The centers will be led by the Department of Defense and supported with a $140 million in federal dollars, combined with more than $140 million in non-federal resources. Detroit's will focus on lightweight and modern metals manufacturing and Chicago will concentrate on digital manufacturing and design technologies.

Obama says two high tech centers already launched -- in Youngstown, Ohio and in Raleigh, N.C. -- are connecting businesses with research universities and that there's a bipartisan effort in Congress to get them started across the country.

"Congress has an opportunity to really expand these in a meaningful way," he said. But in the meantime, he said he'd continue to press for them.

"I'm really excited about these four hubs," he said. "The only problem is Germany has 60 of them."

He said he wants to do two more this year and that the Energy Department is launching a competition today. The White House says the department will award $70 million over five years to improve the ability to manufacture advanced fiber-reinforced polymer composites at the production speed, cost and performance needed for widespread use in clean energy products including fuel-efficient and electric vehicles, wind turbines and hydrogen and natural gas storage tanks.

He also gave some free promotion to a local brew, noting that the Chicago hub will be headquartered not far from downtown Chicago, on Goose Island, "where there’s also a very superior beer.

"I'm just letting you know," Obama said to laughter. "A little hometown plug there. Feel free to use that, Goose Island."

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