Obama Announces New High-Tech Hubs: 'We're Building Iron Man'

WASHINGTON - President Obama today summed up his announcement about a new effort to boost high-tech manufacturing with a simple declaration: "I'm here to announce that we're building Iron Man."

The president chuckled as he stood on the stage in the White House East Room surrounded by robotics.

"I'm going to blast off in a second," he joked. "This has been a secret project we've been working on for a long time. Not really. Maybe. It's classified."

The actual (unclassified) project that he was announcing is the creation of two "Manufacturing Innovation Institutes" in Chicago and Detroit, consortiums of companies, nonprofits, and universities partnering with the federal government to train workers and attract jobs.

"They're partnerships that bring together companies and universities to develop cutting-edge technology, train workers to use that technology, and then make sure that the research is translated into real-world products made by American workers," Obama said.

The administration has already launched two hubs in Youngstown, Ohio, and Raleigh, N.C. and today Obama urged Congress to approve funding for more.

"We can't stop at just four of these hubs. I'm really excited about these four hubs; the only problem is Germany has 60 of them," he said. "We've got to do better. So I'm hoping that we can get these outstanding members of Congress to push this through so I can sign a bill. But without waiting for Congress, we can launch four new manufacturing hubs this year. That's our intention."