Obama Wants New Auto Industry Council

PERRYSBURG, Ohio (AP) -- A new government council will help workers tied to the auto industry transition to new manufacturing opportunities, including jobs in alternative energy, Vice President Joe Biden said Tuesday.

Biden toured the northwestern Ohio headquarters of the Willard & Kelsey Solar Group, which plans to begin large-scale production this year of solar panels. The area around Toledo has been hit hard by job losses in the auto industry and now is banking on more green factory jobs.

"I'm not going to sugarcoat this. Manufacturing is facing one of its toughest periods, in at least my lifetime," Biden said. But there's no reason why U.S. manufacturing can't be successful again, especially, for example, if auto workers are trained to work in the solar, wind or biotech industries, he said.

There are close to 10 companies that are turning Toledo into a research hub for converting sunlight into energy.

President Barack Obama was expected to sign an executive order Tuesday that establishes the White House Council on Automotive Communities and Workers. The council will be chaired by the president's economic adviser, Larry Summers, and his labor secretary, Hilda Solis.

The executive director will be Obama's director of recovery for auto communities and workers, Ed Montgomery.

The recession has been particularly hard on the auto industry, which has lost more than 400,000 jobs in the last decade.

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