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Approved CHIPS Act could have large impact on Capital Region

GlobalFoundries headquarters in Malta
Lucas Willard
/
WAMC
GlobalFoundries headquarters in Malta (WAMC file photo)

Following passage in the U.S. Senate on Wednesday, the House voted Thursday afternoon to pass the CHIPS Act.

The bill makes significant investments in the semiconductor and advanced manufacturing industry, and could have a major impact in the Capital Region.

The $280 billion dollar CHIPS and Science Act makes investments in manufacturing, research, and workforce development. It’s aimed at helping make the U.S. compete overseas and address lingering supply chain issues.

But supporters of the bill in Congress said there was one reason in particular they voted yes. Western Massachusetts Democrat Richard Neal chairs the Ways and Means Committee. He spoke on the House floor Thursday afternoon…

“This is an argument about national security. That’s what this is about, when everything is pushed back,” said Neal. “We have this opportunity here to put aside the theatrical discussion, proceed with sensible, substantive legislation…”

New York Democratic Senator Kirsten Gillibrand spoke just before the House vote.

“It’s extremely necessary for national security, for our priorities. But it also will help with the advancement of science, the advancement of health, the advancement of a lot of technologies that are necessary for everyday life like cars,” said Gillibrand.

Included in the bill is $52 billion to support domestic semiconductor manufacturing.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer spoke with reporters on Zoom Wednesday, outlining potential impacts across the state. The Democrat has sought to make New York a national leader in semiconductor and advanced technology manufacturing.

“So the bottom line is every part of upstate New York is going to benefit from this large bill, the most significant investment in science and manufacturing in decades. And you can be sure, as majority leader – I can assure every resident of upstate – I’m going to use my clout to ensure those dollars, those jobs, that great future come to the regions of upstate New York.”

GlobalFoundries in Saratoga County is planning to build a second chip-fab plant at its world headquarters in Malta, where it employs about 3,000 workers.

Company President and CEO Tom Caulfield on Thursday said GlobalFoundries “is ready to accelerate its expansion plans there with the construction of a new manufacturing facility […] that would create roughly 1,000 high-tech jobs and thousands more to the New York State economy and semiconductor ecosystem both during construction and after the fab comes into operation.”

The Capital Region is also home to the SUNY Poly Albany Nanotech Complex, where Schumer and other officials want to establish the first National Semiconductor Technology Center. The CHIPS Act also includes $10 billion to launch “Regional Technology Hubs” to support research and development.

SUNY Poly Acting President Tod Laursen said the CHIPS Act could allow educational institutions to have a larger stake in working with private companies to develop next-generation technologies.

And, Laursen says, creating that next-gen-tech is not just about design.

“You have to be able to prototype, you have to be able to test. And part of what this facility does here today, and what I think we would expand upon in the future, is the possibility to make available – sort of – semiconductor fab runs for researchers, so that ideas can be prototyped, they can be tried, and that’s different, obviously, for a production-scale line that is for more mature-type technology that’s going into the marketplace,” said Laursen.

Capital Region Democratic Congressman Paul Tonko also hailed the bill’s passage, calling it a “game-changer” for the industry and the region.

President Biden said this week said he’s ready to sign the CHIPS Act into law. It now heads to his desk.

SUNY Poly Acting President Dr. Tod Laursen speaks about CHIPS Act
Dr. Tod Lauren tells WAMC about the CHIPS Act and how SUNY Poly is uniquely positioned to become a national leader in educating the workforce for the semiconductor industry. <br/>

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