Obama asks Congress for boost in manufacturing

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WASHINGTON (AP) -- President Barack Obama is launching three manufacturing hubs and is asking Congress to create 15 more.

Obama says the "manufacturing innovation institutes" would bring together businesses, universities and the government to create high-tech jobs.

The proposal is a central element of Obama's plan to spur manufacturing, which has been a bright spot in the U.S. economy. Manufacturing expanded at a much faster pace in January compared with December.

Obama said the government could help accelerate that trend.

He specifically cited companies that are creating jobs in the U.S. that had been overseas, including Caterpillar, Ford, Intel and Apple.

He called for continued spending on science and innovation.

Obama is kicking off three days of travel to rally support for the job-creation and economic proposals he unveiled. He'll be in Asheville, N.C., today to visit Linamar Corp., a supplier of engine and transmission components that has expanded its manufacturing operations. He'll make stops in Atlanta on Thursday and Chicago on Friday.