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Obama to announce $140 million to support job hubs in Chicago, Detroit

U.S. President Barack Obama waves as he departs the White House in Washington February 19, 2014. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque
U.S. President Barack Obama waves as he departs the White House in Washington February 19, 2014. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President Barack Obama planned to announce on Tuesday that two new manufacturing institutes aimed at creating quality jobs would be located in Chicago and Detroit and be supported by $140 million in federal funds, the White House said in a statement.

In an afternoon event, Obama will say that both of the institutes will be led by the Defense Department. The Detroit institute will focus on lightweight and modern metals manufacturing, while the Chicago-based hub will be based around digital manufacturing and design technologies.

Obama, whose calls Chicago his home town, is seeking ways to find jobs for middle-class Americans and raise their incomes. In the absence of a consensus in Congress on how to proceed, he is acting on his own where he can.

Part of that push is an effort to expand manufacturing jobs, many of which were lost in preceding decades as U.S. companies searched for cheaper labor abroad.

With a Republican-led House of Representatives focused on cutting federal spending and reducing the size of government, the president has been forced to scale back his plans for the institutes, finding money from savings within existing programs rather than securing a big chunk of new spending for them.

Obama will also announce a competition for the next manufacturing institute, this one on advanced composites, as part of his pledge to launch four institutes this year.

Obama introduced the manufacturing innovation institute idea in 2013. It is based on a German model and draws on a pilot program in Youngstown, Ohio. The president's goal is for there to be 45 such institutes in all.

The administration in January announced the first one in Raleigh, North Carolina, which is focused on spurring development of energy-efficient, high-power electronic chips.

(Reporting by Steve Holland; Editing by Lisa Von Ahn)

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