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Obama to Visit Boeing Plant to Push US Manufacturing

SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images(EVERETT, Wash.) -- Before a backdrop of the newest American-made Boeing passenger jets, President Obama on Friday will announce a series of steps aimed at boosting U.S. manufacturers, and harnessing their momentum for political gain.

Obama, on the final stop of his three-day swing through California and Washington, will tour a Boeing production facility in Everett, Wash., and speak to a crowd of several hundred workers inside the final assembly building for the company’s new 787 Dreamliner.  

Boeing has become a poster child for a thriving manufacturing sector and American export business, and one Obama will use to highlight a battery of steps he believes will help nudge large and small businesses to achieve similar success.

Obama is directing the Export-Import Bank, which helps finance U.S. companies that want to sell their goods abroad, to more aggressively support firms that face competition from foreign businesses unfairly subsidized by their governments in violation of “international disciplines.”

As part of that effort the Bank will also launch a new pilot program for small businesses, providing 6-12 month loans of up to $500,000 to help them grow their exports.

Short-term financing is “the most critical spot and where commercial banks frequently don’t want to lend,” said Fred Hochberg, chairman and president of the Export-Import Bank, explaining why the financing will help.

Some of Obama’s “announcements” are less substantive, including a rhetorical push to reauthorize financing for the Export-Import Bank, which expires in May or sooner; a plan to streamline paperwork for companies seeking to take advantage of Foreign Trade Zones to reduce their tax burdens; and a new website that will serve as a clearinghouse for government resources for exporters.

Manufacturing, which Obama underscored in his State of the Union Address last month, is increasingly part of his pitch for a second term.  

Ironically, Boeing became the epicenter of a bitter fight in the so-called "right to work" debate at one of its plants in South Carolina. The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) had filed suit because the plant uses non-union workers, and so the NLRB wanted the plant moved to a more union-friendly location. Critics blasted the suit, saying it jeapordized hundreds of jobs just to boost unions, and blasted President Obama for not taking a strong enough stand against it.

The suit was eventually dropped when Boeing made other concessions to union machinists.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

ABC News Radio