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Obama pushes agenda at Canadian-owned auto parts plant

US President Barack Obama walks to the Air Force One at Andrews Air Force base near Washington, February 13, 2013. Obama is travelling to North Carolina on Wednesday for an event on the economy following his State of the Union speech.

Credits: REUTERS/JASON REED

BRYN WEESE | QMI AGENCY

WASHINGTON, DC — President Barack Obama used a Canadian-based company with a facility stateside to push his agenda for more government involvement in the economy.

Calling for so-called manufacturing hubs, where government, education and the private sector combine efforts to lure jobs and foreign investment, Obama visited Canada's Linamar Corp.'s plant in Asheville, N.C., Wednesday.

Guelph-based Linamar, which manufacturers auto parts for industrial vehicles, opened shop in the state in 2011 in an abandoned Volvo plant.

"They (Linamar) were looking for a place to build some big parts, and these parts are big I gotta say," Obama said, in front of mining truck parts. "And while they could have gone anyplace in the world, they saw this incredible potential right here in Asheville."

The company reportedly employs 160 workers in Asheville, but hopes to expand to 650.

Linamar CEO Linda Hasenfratz said they were "thrilled" to host the president Wednesday.

"The president's recognition that manufacturing is the backbone of any healthy economy is vital and great for the industry," she said in a statement.

In his state of the union address Tuesday, Obama pledged to create three manufacturing hubs, and urged Congress to approve 13 more, where government incentives coupled with local training programs could lure greater foreign investment.

Obama is making other campaign-style stops in Georgia on Thursday and in his hometown of Chicago Friday to promote other elements of his address.

Republicans have criticized his plan to increase government investment, and instead want to cut government spending, reduce regulations and balance the budget.

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