President Obama visited Pittsburgh yesterday, and toured the TechShop that is located in a new industrial center in the city. This private industry and governmental partnership provides expensive equipment that is needed by inventors, but is typically unavailable to them because of the cost. During nearly an hour, Obama spoke to the business people and inventors, and engaged with them in a question and answer session.
There was a great deal of talk about the importance of fostering innovation, and bringing manufacturing jobs back to America, however one important issue was not addressed. While the president is willing to spend money on sites like the TechShop - to the tune of $1 billion - he did not address issues that face new businesses once they have developed a product to make and market. There was no mention of relaxing or removing governmental regulations that often stand in the way for entrepreneurs.
Pennsylvanians in particular are acutely aware of this administration's penchant for increasing regulations on industry for political purposes. Environmentalists have pushed for increased EPA regulations in industry and energy, and that is part of the reason why the Pittsburgh region in particular has suffered job losses over the years. This region reinvented itself after the fall of the steel industry in the late 1980's, and the new industrial ventures like the TechShop are just the next step in that process. However, manufacturing jobs may or may not return to the region - that is dependent at least in part on the level of governmental regulations standing in the way.
It is good to praise innovation, and encourage invention. It's not particularly useful if it's being coupled with a myriad of governmental hoops a new company must leap through just to get started.