President Announces $400M to Improve U.S. Competitiveness

On Dec. 11, at a meeting of the President’s Export Council (PEC), President Barack Obama announced nearly $400 million in new funding to help make American businesses and workers more competitive, by spurring new manufacturing innovations and expanding apprenticeships for American workers.

PEC serves as the principal national advisory committee on international trade. The council advises the president of government policies and programs that affect U.S. trade performance; promotes export expansion; and provides a forum for discussing and resolving trade-related problems among the business, industrial, agricultural, labor, and government sectors.

Of the newly allocated funds more than $290 million in public-private investment will support two new manufacturing innovation hub competitions: one at the Department of Energy in smart manufacturing, focusing on advance sensors that can dramatically cut energy costs for American factories; and the other at the Department of Defense in flexible hybrid electronics, focusing on flexible computer chips that can be woven into everything from the gears in a helicopter to the fabric in your shirt. Each institution will receive $70 million or more of federal investment to be matched by at least $70 million from the private sector for a total of more than $290 million in new investment.

The remainder of the funding, approximately $100 million, will go to support the American apprenticeship grants competition. The President will also launch a Department of Labor competition to increase and improve the pipeline to better train workers with the skills that employers need for American businesses to grow and thrive in a competitive global environment. The program would spur partnerships between employers, labor, training providers, and local governments to expand apprenticeships into high-growth fields like advanced manufacturing and healthcare and scale models that work.

In his remarks, President Obama highlighted strong U.S. exports as a key driver behind the nation’s significant economic progress and job creation. The President also noted that a year ago U.S. businesses reached a record $2.3 trillion in exports of goods and services, supporting more than 11 million American jobs.