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Obama, in N.C., touts manufacturing initiatives from State of the Union

The Washington Post's Chris Cillizza and NBC's Chuck Todd talk about the key proposals from Tuesday's speech and the president's trip to North Carolina on Wednesday.

ASHEVILLE, N.C. -- Road-testing his State of the Union message for the first time since his speech last night, President Obama visited a factory here in North Carolina’s Blue Ridge Mountains that he said exemplified his second-term vision for manufacturing growth.

Obama emphasized his plans for increased collaboration between federal, state, and local governments to create good conditions for manufacturing, citing Canadian-owned Linamar’s arrival in the Asheville area in 2011 as an example.

“There's a good story to tell here,” Obama said, speaking to a factory floor full of plant workers after touring the auto-parts facility. 

State and local officials offered Linamar about $18 million in incentives to move to the plant to Asheville in 2011, after it was vacated by the automaker Volvo, which caused 228 workers to lose their jobs.

The county had purchased the plant for $7 million, according to local reports at the time, which also noted that Linamar had pledged 363 jobs. So far, it has hired 160 workers and, as the president noted, plans to add another 40 by the end of the year.

Chuck Burton / AP

President Barack Obama speaks to workers and guests at the Linamar Corporation plant in Arden, N.C., Wednesday, Feb. 13, 2013.

Obama said the success of Linamar can be mirrored around the country if the plans he laid out in his State of the Union are implemented -- including funding for “innovation centers” around the country and comprehensive corporate tax reform, which includes disincentives for outsourcing and the elimination of some corporate loopholes.

And as the president said in his speech last night, he wants to raise the federal minimum wage to $9.00 per hour by 2015.

(That's lower than the $9.50 he called for on the campaign trail in 2008, but his advisers say it's still a sizeable boost, given the new tax credits low-income families have available to them like the child tax credit, as well as the implementation of the president’s health care plan.)

“It’s time for an increase in the minimum wage because if you work full-time, you shouldn’t be in poverty,” Obama said during his speech today.

The president also urged Congress to vote on his initiatives that need its approval -- including the 15 innovation centers he wants –- but he was less aggressive than he was in the House chamber Tuesday night, saying only, “I need Congress to do their part.”

Obama will continue his traditional post-State of the Union roadshow to Decatur, Ga., on Thursday and then Chicago on Friday.