COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. — Congress is investing in the U.S. semiconductor industry to encourage companies to expand domestic production capacity.
The $280 billion Semiconductor Production Incentive Creation Act (CHIPS) 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 about 500 people at its Colorado Springs plant.
Matthew Bunker, vice president of operations at Microchip, told reporters Thursday that his company plans to at least double its workforce locally in the coming months and years.
Microchip produces around 50 to 60 semiconductors that are commonly used in the automotive industry.
“Windshield wipers, door controllers, motor controllers, anti-lock brakes; all of that requires intelligence,” Bunker said.
The company also produces a variety of microprocessors and microcontrollers that are used to support 5G telecommunications networks.
The company has seen a surge in demand following the global shortage of microchips. Bunker said they were already planning to expand when the CHIPS Act was passed.
“What the CHIPS Act does is it really levels the playing field for American companies with other competitors around the world,” he said.
The legislation creates a tax credit for US manufacturers who invest in growing their US operations. It also makes available federal grants for research and development.
“We’re going to give our semiconductor industry a real boost here,” said Sen. Michael Bennet, (D) Colorado. “I’m excited about what this means for Americans and for workers in Colorado the opportunity to earn a decent living.”
Bennet toured the facility with company executives on Thursday and told reporters that the pandemic supply chain disruption really exposed the national security risks. He said the overwhelming majority of microchips used in our modern military equipment are made overseas.
“Ninety-five percent of the most important chips in our fighter jets are made in Taiwan, and I think there’s a bipartisan consensus that that’s not good for our national security, that’s is why we passed the CHIPS Act,” Bennet said. .
Bunker said Microchip is working with local colleges and universities to develop a talent pool to support its local operations. Many jobs do not require a college degree.
“Those students who are thinking of going to college and thinking about their careers, make sure they understand that manufacturing jobs are a really good career and it’s not like manufacturing in 20 years ago,” Bunker said.
Senator Bennet recently noticed a big shift in mindset in Washington DC when it comes to the global economy and companies exporting manufacturing jobs overseas.
Bennet believes the CHIP Act is an important first step in restoring American manufacturing in critical industries.
“I think that’s really the first step in something that I hope we’re committed to over the next few decades, which is to make sure that we have a capitalist economy in this country that can actually support the families of workers and make sure they can afford to live here,” Bennet said.
Watch KOAA News5 anytime, anytime with our free streaming app available for your Roku, FireTV, AppleTV, and Android TV. Just search for KOAA News5, download and start watching.