"We've got some catching up to do on that," Harkin said. He added that he would like to see one open in Iowa, based on the bioeconomy.
"This bioeconomy produces a lot of manufacturing," Harkin said. When asked why the government needs to play a role in manufacturing, Harkin said it would be a public-private partnership. Major innovation, according to Harkin, requires bringing businesses together with local governments and the community. The idea is to "pool intellectual capital," and that the kind of innovations the centers would strive for are too expensive for a single company to manage.
"It's something we need to do," Harkin added.
Andringa said she supports some of the government's involvement in manufacturing, such as the research and development. Sometimes, the government is able to "flesh out" ideas that private companies cannot.
"We're certainly supportive of an innovation center," Andringa said. "We need one in Iowa."
Harkin points to the Human Genome Project as a success story for government involvement in the economy. Harkin, who worked to pour approximately $6 billion of taxpayer money into the project over 10 years, said the project has resulted in $700 billion of private capital investment.
"There are some things government can do (to set up business)," Harkin said.
"They're enormous catalysts," Pritzker said of government investment in industry.
Harkin was also asked about how much longer the government can afford to continue to make investments, when the national debt is nearly $17 trillion. He believes that America needs to dig itself out of the hole and taxpayer investment is necessary.
Harkin was also asked about the fact that 97 percent of jobs created in 2013 are considered part-time. He replied, "That's why we need manufacturing jobs."