The Washington Times - August 16, 2012, 10:01AM

President Obama is using all the White House weapons at his disposal to woo voters in critical swing states in the campaign’s final stretch, announcing a $30 million investment aimed at creating a manufacturing hub in Ohio to help boost technology and create jobs in a three-state region.

Recent polls show the president holding a slim edge over Republican rival Mitt Romney in Ohio, and Mr. Obama and Mr. Romney have crisscrossed the state pitching their competing economic plans.

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The new initiative, which White House officials announced Wednesday, creates partnerships among manufacturing firms, universities, community colleges and nonprofit organizations in Ohio, Pennsylvania and West Virginia and will be based in Youngstown, Ohio, an area hard hit by manufacturing-job losses even before the economic recession.

“I’m pleased that we are taking steps to strengthen American manufacturing by launching a new manufacturing institute in Ohio,” Mr. Obama said. “This institute will help make sure that the manufacturing jobs of tomorrow take root not in places like China or India, but right here in the United States of America. That’s how we’ll put more people back to work and build an economy that lasts.”

The consortium will focus its efforts on developing additive manufacturing, known as 3-D printing, a new way of making products and components from a digital model. A range of industries, including defense, aerospace, automotive and metals manufacturing plan to use the new technology, and the Department of Energy estimates that the additive process would be able to save more than 50 percent in energy use compared with current manufacturing processes.

In addition to the $30 million government investment, the partnering entities will provide another $40 million to the pilot program. The Obama administration is touting the initiative as part of a plan announced in early March to invest $1 billion on a national network of up to 15 manufacturing hubs created to try to boost the manufacturing sector and encourage investment in the United States.