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State of the Union highlights high-tech manufacturing opportunities

February 07, 2014

During his 2014 State of the Union address on January 28, 2014, President Obama described his administration's plan for keeping the United States at the forefront of technological advancement. He announced intentions to develop six more high-tech manufacturing hubs, adding to the two already launched in Raleigh, N.C., and Youngstown, Ohio. In addition to creating immediate jobs for professionals in the field, these initiatives aim to open up future IT career opportunities, especially through relationships between the technological facilities and other industries.

Keeping America competitive in high-tech manufacturing
In his address, Obama emphasized his intention to make the U.S. a prime location for high-tech manufacturing and innovation. 

"We also have the chance, right now, to beat other countries in the race for the next wave of high-tech manufacturing jobs. And my administration's launched two hubs for high-tech manufacturing in Raleigh, N.C., and Youngstown, Ohio, where we've connected businesses to research universities that can help America lead the world in advanced technologies," said President Obama. "Tonight, I'm announcing we'll launch six more this year. Bipartisan bills in both houses could double the number of these hubs and the jobs they create."

The purpose of the hubs extends beyond the manufacturing facilities themselves. Advances in technology and the resources they create will fuel additional opportunities in the sectors that take advantage of these ideas, such as the retail industry.

The creation of these hubs, which are supported by government funding, complements an emerging trend of information technology companies moving their facilities back to the United States. For example, Apple moved its Mac manufacturing to Austin last year, according to Tech Republic, and Motorola (under Google ownership) manufactures the Moto X smartphone in the United States, The Verge noted.

Long-term prospects for IT careers
Although the projects completed in these hubs should create some additional IT careers, the real job creation pay-off is a long-term process. Tech Republic examined the progress of the hub in Youngstown, Ohio, which has been running for about a year. According to the news source, the 3D printing lab and training center created a limited number of jobs at the start, but its real promise resides in how the center is forming the identity of the local community. The lab has raised the tech profile of the town, the source noted, and has increased the interaction between universities and corporations. These effects should help to attract talent, students and research grants to the university.

The partnership between tech centers, like the 3D printing lab, and other facilities also contains potential for long-term job growth. Advancements in technology achieved through research and development will create new opportunities in other industries, and will have far-reaching applications that require IT support for successful implementation. As CNET noted, this plan is most dynamic insofar as it forms connections between businesses and academic research facilities. For example, the Raleigh center, which was announced earlier in January, will develop energy-efficient chips through a consortium formed by the North Carolina State University and businesses such as APEI, Avogy, Delphi, DfR Solutions and Hesse Mechantronic, according to Reuters.

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