COLORADO SPRINGS, Colorado — Congress is investing in America's semiconductor industry encouraging companies to expand their domestic production capability.
The $280 billion Creating Helpful Incentives to Produce Semiconductors (CHIPS) Act was signed by President Biden on Tuesday. The legislation enjoyed bipartisan support.
One of the companies that will benefit from the legislation is Microchip Technologies which employs around 500 people at its Colorado Springs plant.
Matthew Bunker, Vice President of Operations at Microchip, told reporters Thursday that his company expects to at least double its workforce locally in the coming months and years.
Microchip produces roughly 50 to 60 semiconductors that are used routinely in the automotive industry.
"The windshield wipers, the door controllers, the engine controllers, anti-lock brakes; all of that requires intelligence," Bunker said.
The company also produces a variety of microprocessors and microcontrollers that are used in support of 5G telecommunications networks.
The company experienced a surge in demand in the wake of the global microchip shortage. Bunker said they were already planning to expand when the CHIPS Act passed.
"What the CHIPS Act does is it really levels the playing field of US companies with other competitors around the world," he said.
The legislation creates a tax credit for American manufacturers who invest in growing their operations in the US. It also makes federal grants available for research and development.
"We're gonna give our semiconductor industry a real shot in the arm here," said Senator Michael Bennet, (D) Colorado. "I'm excited about what it means for Americans and for workers in Colorado the chance to earn a decent living."
Bennet toured the facility with company executives on Thursday and told reporters that pandemic supply chain disruption really exposed national security risks. He said the overwhelming majority of the microchips used in our modern military equipment are made overseas.
"Ninety-five percent of the most significant chips in our fighter planes are manufactured in Taiwan, and I think there is a bi-partisan consensus that that is not good for our national security which is why we passed the CHIPS Act," Bennet said.
Bunker said that Microchip works with local colleges and universities to develop a talent pipeline to support its local operations. Many of the jobs don't require a college degree.
"Those students that are thinking about going to college and are thinking about their careers, make sure that they understand manufacturing jobs are a very good career and it's not like the manufacturing from 20 years ago," Bunker said.
Senator Bennet noticed a big shift in thinking in Washington DC recently when it comes to the global economy and companies exporting manufacturing jobs overseas.
Bennet believes the CHIP Act is a strong first step in re-establishing American manufacturing in critical industries.
"I think this is really the first step of something that I hope over the next decades we commit to, which is making sure that we’ve got a capitalist economy in this country that can actually sustain working families and make sure they can afford to live here," Bennet said.
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