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Officials await reconciliation of federal semiconductor manufacturing bill

Senator Chuck Schumer speaks at GlobalFoundries in Malta in July, 2021
Lucas Willard
Senator Chuck Schumer speaks at GlobalFoundries in Malta in July, 2021

Leaders in Washington have pitched boosting domestic semiconductor manufacturing as a way to address supply chain woes, foster competition, and create jobs. Officials in New York are hopeful for billions in federal incentives.

The Senate last June passed the U.S. Innovation and Competition Act. The House in February passed the COMPETES Act. Both bills contain $52 billion for the so-called CHIPS Act, funding domestic semiconductor research, design, and manufacturing.

In his State of the Union address earlier this month, President Biden urged Congress to take action on a bill to spur semiconductor manufacturing. The Democratic president pointed to Intel CEO Pat Gelsinger in the audience.

“Pat came to see and he told me they are ready to increase their investment from $20 billion to $100 billion. That would be one of the biggest investment in manufacturing in American history. And all they’re waiting for is for you to pass this bill. So let’s not wait any longer. Send it to my desk. I’ll sign it. And we’ll really take off in a big way.”

New York Congressman Paul Tonko, a Democrat from the 20th District, said the $52 billion in funding to support semiconductor manufacturing will be a “powerful shot in the arm.”

As the House and Senate begin reconciling their respective bills, Tonko on Tuesday said he hopes a deal could be reached “very soon.”

“As it relates to semiconductors and the microelectronic industry, our bills are almost carbon copy. And so that section, when it’s conferenced, will be pretty much approving of that CHIPS activity within each bill,” said Tonko.

Tonko was part of a group of lawmakers who wrote to U.S. Department of Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo earlier this month calling for the National Semiconductor Technology Center and National Advanced Packaging Manufacturing Program to be located in New York. The entities were created under the CHIPS Act.

President Biden’s push for semiconductor funding drew the attention of New York officials including Governor Kathy Hochul.

In a March 1st Tweet, Hochul thanked Biden for highlighting the issue in his national address, adding in part: “My administration has laid the groundwork to cement New York as the national hub for semiconductor manufacturing, and we’re ready to make his vision a reality.”

Hochul was joined by fellow Democrat Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer in January at the Albany NanoTech Complex, pushing the campus as an ideal location for the Technology Center.

“And guess what was on my mind when I wrote that: a six letter word, A-L-B-A-N-Y,” said Schumer.

Following passage of the U.S. Innovation and Competition Act, Schumer visited Malta, home to the headquarters of semiconductor manufacturer GlobalFoundries.

There, GlobalFoundries CEO Tom Caulfield announced plans to build out the existing Fab 8 facility and the construction of a second fab at the Luther Forest site, where 3,000 workers are currently employed.

“This new fab will require investments in the billions, and will not just support U.S. manufacturing, but also will add approximately 1,000 new jobs directly by GF, and thousands of jobs indirectly – including construction and infrastructure jobs.”

GlobalFoundries says it has invested more than $15 billion at its Fab 8 site.

Saratoga County Chamber of Commerce President Todd Shimkus compared the incentives to boost semiconductor manufacturing in 2022 to the hundreds of millions of dollars rolled out to attract the high-tech industry ahead of a 2009 groundbreaking in Malta.

“What you need is similar to what we had to do back 12 years ago in order to entice AMD, there had to be some incentives in order to lower the cost of manufacturing,” said Shimkus.

In addition to the federal semiconductor funding, Shimkus said state infrastructure money is needed to help support the proposed expansion at GlobalFoundries.

“We need investments at the federal level, we need investments at the state level. And what that’s going to do is generate private investment and we’re talking $15 billion, upwards of $15 billion or more of private investment. That’s absolutely going to have an impact across the region,” said Shimkus.

As GlobalFoundries considers its expansion, the Hudson Valley Community College TEC-SMART campus – home to the Clean Technologies Early College High School program – is also planning to expand.

In February, the Saratoga County Board of Supervisors voted to provide $1.5 million to support the new construction.

Todd Kusnierz is Chair of the County Board.

“The reason that the measure was so roundly supported is because of GlobalFoundries being located right here in the county and the partnerships that can take place from an educational standpoint,” said Kusnierz.

Lucas Willard is a reporter and host at WAMC Northeast Public Radio, which he joined in 2011.
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