The CHIPS Act Is Our Generation’s Moonshot For The US To Regain Tech Leadership

semiconductor industry
U.S. Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo recently delivered a speech at Georgetown University's School of Foreign Service recently on the importance of the CHIPS Act and its long-term vision for America.

Raimondo opened the speech by listing other historic investments past presidents have made, including President Kennedy's call on the country to put a man on the moon by the end of the decade, leading to a boom in technology and the American economy. She followed up by saying, "Today, because of President Biden's leadership, working with Congress, the CHIPS and Science Act presents us with an opportunity to make investments that are similarly consequential for our nation's future."

There is no doubt that the CHIPS Act has spurred a resurgence in the presence of companies seeking to build semiconductor manufacturing plants on American soil. Companies such as Intel, Micron, and TSMC have all committed to ramping up chip production in the United States. Raimondo spoke to the importance of this happening, as she remarked, "Semiconductors form the foundation of all advanced technology...many of which can be used for good or for malign purposes."

image of circuit board

Raimondo said that the success of the program will be measured on at least two key imperatives. The first is whether or not the program enables the U.S. to build a "reliable and resilient" semiconductor industry which allows America to be a technological leader for decades to come.

The second imperative will be whether or not those in charge of the program are "good stewards of taxpayer dollars." She points to this being a public investment in the private industry without any precedent, and therefore gives taxpayers the right to transparency and accountability.

The recent pandemic brought about unique challenges to the industry, as the chip shortage affected companies across the board. Raimondo shared that in 2021, car prices increased nearly 30% and were responsible for a third of core inflation. This was all due to there not being enough chips, according to Raimondo.

Production of chips on U.S. soil is only one aspect of what the CHIPS Act is aimed to deliver in order to avert another pandemic-like incident. Raimondo added, "I want the United States to be the only country in the world where every company capable of producing leading-edge chips will have a significant R&D and high-volume manufacturing presence."

semiconductor worker

Part of the investment to enable a stronger R&D presence in the country will be derived from $11B, which Raimondo says will be used "to build a strong semiconductor R&D ecosystem to generate the ideas and the talent we need to support these efforts."

The CHIPS Act is not meant to isolate America from the rest of the world in terms of the semiconductor industry, Raimondo points out. Instead, she insists the country will remain eager to work with its partners and allies in order to create diverse, resilient, and sustainable supply chains. This also demands transparency with our allies as we develop strategies in collaboration with them.

As the chip industry begins building new facilities, Raimondo says it will also give a boost to the economy by creating new job opportunities ranging from construction workers to the semiconductor workforce. "Tens of thousands of American workers without 4-year degrees will have access to good paying jobs and careers," Raimondo explained.