Murray and Cantwell visit SW WA semiconductor maker as Chip and Science Act boosts industry growth

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

“Right here in Clark County, nLight and companies like them make up a semiconductor manufacturing hub for the US,” Senator Murray said. “This bill is a game changer. It will lower the cost of everything from appliances to cars to medical equipment — anything that requires chips — it will create good-paying jobs here in Clark County and across our state , and will protect us from the price spikes we saw as a result of the pandemic, by 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 to reduce costs in our stores.”

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

“Since early last week, Micron Technology, GlobalFoundries, Qualcomm and SEH have announced plans for more than $40 billion to build new semiconductor factories and increase production here in the United States.” Senator Cantwell continued.

The senators emphasized 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.

Scott Keeney, CEO of nLight said: “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 industry, but also to deepen science and technology, workforce development and education.”

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

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 and Science Act will allow the Commerce Department to provide $39 billion in incentives through loans, loan guarantees and grants to chip makers as well as non-chip companies (eg, equipment suppliers and chip materials). The Act 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 can be beneficial to several local companies, including Analog Devices, nLight, WaferTech and SEH America.

The CHIPS and Science Act also reauthorizes the National Science Foundation’s Advanced Technology Education (ATE) program and doubles the ATE budget 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 US economy and ensure good-paying jobs in Clark County.

In addition, the CHIPS and Science Act provides support to expand internship and experiential learning opportunities at Washington State University Vancouver, such as the school’s Future Leaders Project, which aims to connect students historically underserved with paid summer internships and tutoring. 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%) and students of color (33%).

HERE YOU CAN FIND MORE PHOTOS OF THE EVENT.
THE VIDEO OF THE PRESS WHEEL CAN BE FOUND HERE.
HERE YOU CAN FIND VIDEO OF THE LIGHT LASERS IN ACTION.
AUDIO OF THE PRESS RELEASE CAN BE FOUND HERE.

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