ASHEVILLE, North Carolina (WXOW) - Kicking of three days of travel, President Barack Obama headed to North Carolina Wednesday to rally support for the job-creation and economic proposals he unveiled in his State of the Union address.
Obama launched the effort Wednesday in Asheville, North Carolina, with a visit to Linamar Corp., a supplier of engine and transmission components that has expanded its manufacturing operations.
The White House said the company has hired 160 workers and will hire 40 more by the end of the year.
Reiterating his speech before a joint session of Congress Tuesday night, Obama called job creation his "North Star."
He asked Congress to focus on attracting jobs to the U.S., training American workers and boosting investments in infrastructure, manufacturing and clean energy.
Obama also says he wants to raise the minimum hourly wage from the current $7.25 to $9 by the end of 2015.
"I believe we reward effort and determination with wages that allow working families to raise their kids and get ahead," Obama said.
"And that's one of the reasons I said last night that it's time for an increase in the minimum wage. Because if you work full time, you shouldn't be in poverty," he said.
In his bid to boost manufacturing, Obama is launching three "manufacturing innovation institutes" - partnerships among the private sector, the federal government and colleges "to develop and build manufacturing technologies and capabilities that will help U.S.-based manufacturers and workers create good jobs," according to a White House fact sheet. He is asking Congress to create 15 more institutes.
The proposal is a central element of Obama's plan to spur manufacturing, which has been a bright spot in the U.S. economy. Manufacturing expanded at a much faster pace in January compared with December.
The White House outlined other steps the administration says it will take to continue improvements in manufacturing, which it says added 500,000 jobs the last three years after shedding jobs for more than 10 years.
Following his stop in North Carolina, Obama will make stops in Atlanta on Thursday and Chicago on Friday.
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