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Business Leaders Push for Passage of Federal CHIPS Act

Local business and political leaders are urging Congress to finally pass the $52 billion CHIPS Act, which would provide the computer chip industry billions of dollars to build new factories across the United States.

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(TNS) — Local business and political leaders gathered Friday at Albany Nanotech for a panel discussion in which they urged Congress to finally pass the $52 billion CHIPS Act, which would provide the computer chip industry billions of dollars to build new factories across the United States, including a new federal chip manufacturing research lab based in Albany.

The event, organized by the State University of New York system, the Business Council and the locally-based American Semiconductor Industry Coalition, featured U.S. Rep. Paul Tonko, the Democratic congressman from Amsterdam, as well as executives from IBM and GlobalFoundries.

And while there is plenty of excitement about the CHIPS Act, and what it could mean for the Capital Region, there was also some worries since the legislation appears to be stalled as Congress approaches its recess at the end of July.

The CHIPS Act was designed to provide up to $2 billion to chipmakers as a way to remake the domestic chip manufacturing sector, which has lost its status as the world's largest chips producer.

Today, the U.S. only makes 12 percent of the world's chips, down from nearly 40 percent back in the 1990s. Tonko, members of Congress on both sides of the aisle and the chip industry believe what's needed is a massive infusion of capital in order to get the momentum swinging back away from China, whose relationship with the U.S. has become increasingly belligerent.

China also has been threatening to take back the island nation of Taiwan, which produces a majority of the world's most advanced chips due to its technological and manufacturing leadership. The CHIPS Act is also a hedge against China's threats against Taiwan, which is a U.S. ally.

"It is deep investments that need to be made," Tonko said at Friday's event.

Tonko is a member of the congressional committee negotiating the final version of the CHIPS Act, which is now in conference between the House and the Senate as part of a larger China competition bill. Because of the issues Republicans had with that larger, more expensive bill, the legislation has been stalled.

"All they had for me was decline, decline, decline," Tonko said of his GOP counterparts.

Because of that, there is now talk in Congress of stripping out the CHIPS Act on its own again in the hopes that it will pass quickly and not get bogged down in partisan fighting that could end up killing the bill entirely.

But now, it's not just China that the U.S. has to worry about.

The CHIPS Act, which was originally championed by U.S. Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer of New York, has forced leaders in South Korea, Japan and India to create similar incentive programs in order to compete, according to the New York Times. The European Union is also doing the same thing as well.

GlobalFoundries has already promised that if the CHIPS Act passes, it will build a new chip factory in Saratoga County next to its existing factory at the Luther Forest Technology Campus known as Fab 8.

Heather Briccetti, president of The Business Council of New York State, said at Friday's event that adding new chip fabs is about more than just jobs at the factory but construction jobs and new operations set up by suppliers, as well as the new housing and retail that would develop from an influx of employees.

"The more critical mass (in the chip industry in New York), the more companies we will see grow around it," Briccetti said.

© 2022 the Times Union (Albany, N.Y.). Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.