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Schumer: 'We want to build the future in Batavia, not Beijing'

By Howard B. Owens
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The pandemic exposed a weakness in the U.S. economy, Sen. Charles Schumer said today while at a car dealership in Genesee County -- not enough computer chips are manufactured in the U.S., leading to a shortage in the semiconductors that help cars, along with phones, computers, and appliances, run.

Currently, only 12 percent of chips are manufactured domestically, according to Schumer, compared to 37 percent in the 1990s.

Many foreign competitors, including China, are investing heavily to dominate the industry, Schumer said. Nearly 75 percent of global semiconductor production is now occurring in East Asia, and foreign government subsidies drive the majority of the cost difference for producing semiconductors overseas and in the U.S.

In response, Schumer, the majority leader in the Senate, introduced the CHIPS and Science Act, which with the president's signature this past week, is now law.

It provides over $50 billion in federal incentives to get more chips made in the U.S.

"We say (in the bill), not only do they have to make the chips here, but they can't make any more of them in China," Schumer said. "That is very, very good for America. We're saying we want to build the future in Batavia, not Beijing, in Syracuse, not Shanghai. So I wrote this legislation with upstate in mind."

Schumer is bullish on WNY STAMP, the 1,250-acre technology park that is now shovel-ready in the Town of Alabama.  He believes that before long, there will be a semiconductor plant at the park.

"Companies are seeing upstate New York is the place to be," Schumer said. "We hope there'll be many more. And we're fighting very hard to get one at STAMP. It is seen as a great opportunity at some of the chip companies -- I'm not allowed to say who -- but they have already visited here a couple of times. The bottom line is that manufacturing chips here in New York has the potential to be our 21st century Erie Canal."

He promised to do everything he can to attract chip manufacturers to upstate New York.

"We have more shovel-ready sites, including the STAMP facility right here in Genesee County than any place in the country," he said. "I'm gonna use my clout as majority leader in making (upstate New York) the center of the country with $5 billion of federal money for all of our semiconductor advanced research and development, which attracts people here. We have a great workforce here. We have great universities here. We have cheap water and cheap electric power, which these chip plants need as well, so you put that all together, and we are ideally suited now that this bill passed."

From a press release, highlights of the legislation:

Specifically, Schumer highlighted that the bill includes:

  • $39 billion for the CHIPS for America Fund to provide federal incentives to build, expand, or modernize domestic facilities and equipment for semiconductor fabrication, assembly, testing, advanced packaging, or research and development to help attract major chip manufacturers to shovel-ready sites like STAMP in Genesee County.  
  • $11 billion for Department of Commerce research and development including creating a National Semiconductor Technology Center (NSTC) a public-private partnership to conduct advanced semiconductor manufacturing, with Albany Nanotech primed to be a top contender to serve as a major hub for the NSTC, and other specialized R&D programs that universities across the state are in a strong position to compete for.
  • $2 billion for the DoD CHIPS for America Defense Fund.
  • $200 million for the CHIPS for America Workforce and Education Fund to kick start the development of the domestic semiconductor workforce, which faces near-term labor shortages, by leveraging activities of the National Science Foundation.
  • A new Investment Tax Credit for semiconductor manufacturing facilities and equipment.

Schumer explained that New York is uniquely suited to take advantage of these federal investments to reassert America’s global technological leadership. New York is currently home to over 80 semiconductor companies that employ over 34,000 NY workers, including global industry leaders like GlobalFoundries, Wolfspeed, onsemi, IBM, and other major microchip and innovation companies that support them like Corning Inc. in Monroe County which just announced a $139M, 270 job expansion in anticipation of this bill. Schumer said investments like these are only the beginning though, and now that his bill has finally become law, the ripple effects from more chip fabs and their supply chains being built in places like Upstate New York will give companies like Baxter and the American economy the stability it needs to avoid shocks like this again in the future. 

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