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Obama launches research hub in North Carolina

- The Washington Times - Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Following up on his pledge to make 2014 a year of executive action on the economy and other issues, President Obama on Wednesday designated Raleigh, N.C., as the new hotspot in electronics research.

Speaking at North Carolina State University, Mr. Obama said Raleigh will become the focal point for research into "next generation power electronics," with federal workers, leading universities and private companies working together to research and ultimately produce a new, more effective and efficient form of semiconductor.

"The country that figures out how to do this first and the companies that figure out how to do this best — they're the ones that are going to attract the jobs that come with it," Mr. Obama said, speaking to a raucous group of students and supporters. The site will be similar to the National Network for Manufacturing Innovation, established in Youngstown, Ohio. Mr. Obama envisions at least 45 other, similar locations across the country where the government will partner with education institutions and businesses to jump-start research.

In Raleigh, that research will be focused on wide-bandgap semiconductors, touted by the president as more powerful and efficient than the semiconductors currently used in computers, cell phones and other products.

"This hub is going to make it easier for these wide-bandgap semiconductors to go from the drawing board to the factory floor to the store shelves," Mr. Obama said.

Wednesday's action was the first step in what the president has said will be "a year of action," vowing to use his executive authority to act wherever and whenever possible.

The announcement represented a relatively small action, but the president promised more will come.

"Where I can act on my own without Congress, I'm going to do so," he said.

During his address, he also repeated his call for lawmakers to pass an extension of emergency unemployment benefits.

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