Transcript: Obama's Interview With Regional Reporters - Page 3 of 15

Transcript: Obama’s Interview With Regional Reporters

we can make some progress on that front, and we’ve started to talk to all the parties involved and both parties here in Washington about the prospects of taking legislative steps. But obviously we’ve got a lot on our plate right now. And so what we can do administratively, that’s where we’re going to start.

Q Thank you very much.

Q Mr. President, the numbers that came out today show that Indiana lost 59,400 manufacturing jobs last year. You’ve been in Elkhart, you’ve seen the ravage there. Aside from a bailout to the auto industry and the RV industry, are there policies that the state of Indiana ought to be embracing to strengthen its economy, or is the manufacturing sector in Indiana and elsewhere doomed?

THE PRESIDENT: Well, look, obviously I come from a neighboring state, and if you think about northwest Indiana, it’s as much a part of the Chicago regional economy as Indiana’s. And so I’m very mindful of what’s been happening. But I think that also points to where the opportunities are. Both Chicago and Indianapolis have done relatively well, those regions, because of a diversified economy.

So what started off as hardcore traditional manufacturing towns made the transition to other areas — building on the universities, setting up research parks, thinking about innovative sectors in bio-medicine or in energy technologies.

And so part of what I think every state should be doing right now is figuring out, A, how do we invest in our people so that we’re attracting world-class businesses who are looking for world-class employees. I think getting K-12 education right, not short-changing higher education — I think those things are absolutely critical; thinking about where can — where do strategic infrastructure investments make sense. You know, if you think about the Midwest, one of the problems is, is that — this is my stenographer. She just wants to make sure that I’m not tripping over myself.

One of the exciting things that we put in our stimulus package, for example, was high-speed rail, and is there an opportunity to connect Chicago, Indianapolis, Detroit, Milwaukee, St. Louis, so that we’re linking up some of these major metropolitan hubs in ways that provide us a competitive advantage in the world economy.

I think making sure that we are setting up research facilities or encouraging and attracting researchers, venture capital that spins off new technologies into commercial applications — some states do that better than others. Obviously Silicon Valley is the best example of it, but Massachusetts, along Route 128, did it very well. There’s no reason why working with some of the world-class universities that exist in the heartland in the Midwest that we don’t adopt some of those same practices.

So we’re going to do everything we can to preserve our manufacturing base. We have to recognize that some of those workers who used to manufacture steel now are going to be manufacturing solar panels. And we’ve got to make sure that they’re equipped to do that. Okay?

Q Thank you, Mr. President. You named a special