President Barack Obama spoke this afternoon at an eastern Iowa plant that he says is an example of how the country must adapt to new ways of manufacturing to turn the economy around.

The Alcoa Davenport Works is more than one mile long and produces aluminum for airplanes, automobiles and other applications. The president mentioned that fact as he opened his remarks.

Obama said almost every airplane in the world has some Alcoa product in it. “In fact it turns out that you’re responsible for the wings on Air Force One, so I want to thank all you for getting me here in one piece,” Obama said. The plant employs 2,200 people and Obama talked about the way it has bounced back from the recession. He says the workers that were laid off at Alcoa during “the darkest days of the recession” have all been hired back and the plant managers are talking about hiring more people in the near future.

Obama toured the facility with the company chairman before making his speech. He talked about how manufacturing has changed and that has in some cases hurt workers as fewer are now required to do jobs. But, he said the important thing is for the country to adapt.

“This plant’s been in operation for 60 years, and what you’ve learned, is that if you want to beat the competition, you’ve got to innovate, ” Obama said, “you’ve got to invest in new skills, you’ve got to invest in new processess, you’ve got to invest in new products.” Obama pointed out that the company has recently invested $90-million in some new equipment. He says that’s what’s needed to keep up.

“You had to up your game, and that’s what we’ve got to do as a country as a whole,” Obama said. Obama made a pitch for himself, saying he ran for president in the first place to change things. He asked the audience to continue supporting him.

“I know these are difficult times, many of you probably have friends who’re looking for work, or family members who are looking for work, or are just getting by,” Obama said, “And when that happens, sometimes it’s tempting to turn cynical and to be doubtful about the future and to start thinking maybe our best days are behind us. But that’s not the America that I know. That’s not the America I see here in the Quads and in communities all across America today.”

Obama has designated the six western Iowa counties that border the Missouri River as disaster areas but did not mention the flooding during his 16-minute speech. He shook hands with some of the Alcoa employees after his speech before leaving the plant.