From WILL - News Local/State -

Obama: Manufacturing Hubs Will Keep U.S. On Cutting Edge Of Technology

Robert Easter, Illinois Congressional Delegation

U of I President Robert Easter meets in Washington with members of Illinois' congressional delegation, including 12th District Democrat William Enyart, 2nd District Democrat Robin Kelly, and 7th District Democrat Danny Davis. (Illinois Governor Pat Quinn's office)

President Barack Obama has made official the recent announcement of two manufacturing hubs, including a Chicago facility to be operated by the UI Labs initiative. 

The President says manufacturing was once the ticket to a good middle-class life in the U.S.  Announcing the funding for the two manufacturing hubs Tuesday, he said advances in technology have allowed manufacturers today to do more with less. 

And Obama said services provided, like architecture and software, have a ripple effect through hubs like the one being built in Chicago.

The $70-million in federal defense funding for the project was announced over the weekend.  Another $70-million is paying for a hub in Detroit, focused on lightweight metals manufacturing.

Obama said much of this expertise has been located overseas the last few years.  He said much research and development wants to be located with where manufacturing is taking place.

"If you design something, you want to see how's it working, and how's it getting made, and then tinker with it, and fix it, and try something different," he said.  "So if all the manufacturing is somewhere else, the lead we've got - in terms of design and research and development - we're lose that too.  That will start locating overseas."

Governor Pat Quinn was among those joining the president for Tuesday's announcement in Washington, U.S Senator Dick Durbin, along with Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel and University of Illinois President Robert Easter.

In a press release, Illinois' junior U.S. Senator, Republican Mark Kirk, praised the effort on both sides of the political aisle to fund the hubs.

"This bipartisan effort will allow for the creation of thousands of jobs in our state, and I am proud to be working with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to ensure Illinois remains a top competitor in the areas of defense, manufacturing and innovation," Senator Kirk said.

Partners matching the $70-million in funding with more than $250-million include the Blue Waters supercomputer at the U of I, and industries like Caterpillar. 

Quinn announced plans for the U of I-led UI Labs initiative just over a year ago.