CAMAS, WA – Today, US Senators Patty Murray (D-WA) and Maria Cantwell (D-WA) visited semiconductor manufacturer nLight to promote major opportunities coming to Southwest Washington in the recently passed $250 billion CHIPS and Science Act . Competitive grant funding, loans and loan guarantees, and the investment tax credit in the bill would potentially support major investments in Clark County’s array of semiconductor and electronics manufacturing companies. The Greater Portland region supports over 30,000 computer and electronics jobs, with over 2,800 jobs in semiconductor and related equipment manufacturing in Clark County alone.

“Right here in Clark County, nLight and companies like them make up a hub of U.S. semiconductor manufacturing.” Senator Murray said. “This bill is a game changer. It will lower costs for everything from appliances to cars to medical devices — everything that requires chips, create good-paying jobs here in Clark County and across our state, and protect us from rising prices that we saw as a result of the pandemic, strengthening a really critical supply chain. We’re building an economy that not only leads the world in innovation, but leads to good-paying jobs right here at home and lower costs on our store shelves.”

“We want to be a leader in semiconductor manufacturing and we want to be a leader in advanced chip manufacturing.” Senator Cantwell said. “We want to be the leaders in designing future applications for this great technology. And Camas and Clark County are leading the way.”

“Since early last week, Micron Technology, GlobalFoundries, Qualcomm and SEH have all announced plans for more than $40 billion to build new semiconductor fabs — and ramp up production right here in the United States.” Sen. Cantwell continued.

The senators highlighted opportunities to improve science, technology, engineering and math education in the region, including $200 million for the National Science Foundation to grow the semiconductor workforce.

Said Scott Keeney, CEO, nLight: “As the world changes, there has been more pressure. And I think this CHIPS Act comes at a critical time, not only to improve what we’re doing in the industry, but also to go deeper into science and technology, and to go into workforce development, and to go in education.”

Said Jennifer Baker, President of the Columbia River Economic Development Council: “We need to optimize our efforts on the national stage to anchor the benefits right here … We can support every young person in our community to explore career paths in STEM, nurturing their curiosity, not just with technology, but also challenging them to ask how it works…To colleagues in the room, I say let’s follow it.”

During the tour, senators and media saw the chip manufacturing process in action, from automated wafer build to semiconductor laser cutting.

The recently passed CHIPS & Science Act will enable the Commerce Department to provide $39 billion in incentives through loans, loan guarantees and grants to chip makers as well as non-chip companies (e.g. suppliers of chip equipment and materials). The law also provides a 25 percent investment tax credit for semiconductor manufacturing equipment and the construction of semiconductor manufacturing facilities. Additional funds can support local workforce development efforts. These activities could benefit a number of local companies, such as Analog Devices, nLight, WaferTech and SEH America.

The CHIPS & Science Act also reauthorizes the National Science Foundation’s Advanced Technology Education (ATE) program and doubles the budget for ATE from the current level of $75 million per year to $150 million per year. This program helps community colleges like Clark College improve and expand educational programs for technicians to work in the high-tech STEM fields that drive the U.S. economy and provide good-paying jobs in Clark County.

In addition, the CHIPS & Science Act provides support for expanding internship and experiential learning opportunities at Washington State University in Vancouver, such as the school’s Future Leaders Project, which aims to connect historically underserved students with summer internships paid and mentoring. The bill also supports the school’s ongoing efforts to increase access, entry and retention of women and people of color in STEM fields. The campus serves a large population of first-generation college students (44 percent) and students of color (33 percent).



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