Murray, Cantwell visit SW WA semiconductor maker as CHIPS & Science Act drive industry growth

CAMAS, WA – Today, US Senators Patty Murray (D-WA) and Maria Cantwell (D-WA) visited semiconductor manufacturer nLight to tout the great opportunities coming to Southwest Washington in the recently passed $250 billion CHIPS & Science Act. Competitive grant financing, loans and loan guarantees, and the investment tax credit in the bill would potentially support major investments in Clark County’s cluster 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 device manufacturing in Clark County alone.

“Right here in Clark County, nLight and companies like them represent the center of semiconductor manufacturing in the U.S.” Senator Murray said. “This bill is a game changer. This will lower the cost of everything from appliances to cars to medical equipment – anything that requires chips, create good paying jobs here in Clark County and across our state, and protect us from the price spikes we’ve seen as as a result of the pandemic, by strengthening a truly 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 the leader in semiconductor manufacturing and we want to be the leader in advanced chip manufacturing,” Senator Cantwell said. “We want to be leaders in the design of future applications for this great technology. And Camas and Clark County are in the lead.”

“Since early last week, Micron Technology, GlobalFoundries, Qualcomm and SEH have announced more than $40 billion in plans 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 is changing, there is more pressure. And I think this CHIPS Act comes at a critical time, not only to improve what we’re doing in industry, but to go deeper into science and technology, and to go into workforce development, and to go into education.”

Jennifer Baker, president of the Columbia River Economic Development Council, said: “We need to optimize our efforts on a national stage to anchor the benefits right here… We can support every young person in our community to explore career paths in STEM by nurturing their curiosity not only with technology, but also challenge them to ask how it works…I tell the colleagues in the room to go after him.’

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

The recently passed CHIPS & Science Act will allow the Department of Commerce to provide $39 billion in incentives through loans, loan guarantees and grants to chip makers as well as non-chip companies (eg chip equipment suppliers and materials). The law also provides a 25 percent investment tax credit for semiconductor manufacturing equipment and 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 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 to expand 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 paid summer internships and mentorships. 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 proportion of first-generation students (44 percent) and students of color (33 percent).

MORE PHOTOS FROM THE EVENT CAN BE FOUND HERE.
VIDEOS OF THE PRESS CONFERENCE CAN BE FOUND HERE.
VIDEOS OF NLIGHT LASERS IN ACTION CAN BE FOUND HERE.
AUDIO FROM THE PRESS CONFERENCE CAN BE FOUND HERE.

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