Eight months after Congress passed the CHIPS and Science Act, which gave the U.S. semiconductor industry a $280 billion boost, a group of state legislators backed the Oregon CHIPS Act on Wednesday, 15 March 2023. This will help local companies compete for federal money.
The 14-person committee, which has members from both parties and houses of Congress, started working in January.
Their goal is to make Oregon as competitive as possible for the nearly $53 billion in grants and tax credits that the U.S. Department of Commerce will start giving this year for semiconductor research and manufacturing. The CHIPS and Science Act makes these grants and tax credits possible.
Senate Bill 4, also called the Oregon CHIPS Act, would set up a $200 million fund for grants and loans for Oregon businesses that want to grow and need federal money.
It would also give Gov. Tina Kotek the power to designate some land outside the invisible line that limits where cities can grow as industrial land that cities can then annex.
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Hillsboro wants to add hundreds of acres of land near its northwest corner. This would make a plot of about 800 acres that could be used for a big factory or “fab.”
The bill is the primary responsibility of the Legislature to the federal law. Still, lawmakers say it fits in with a patchwork of other statements that address the semiconductor industry’s needs.
They talked about last year’s $200 million workforce training plan, which focuses on manufacturing and healthcare jobs, and pending legislation to expand broadband, build more homes and make child care more affordable and available.
Kotek also announced a $1 million grant program last month to help small and medium-sized businesses get ready to apply for federal funding. Business Oregon will be in charge of that grant program. Once the grant rules are set, Business Oregon plans to post updates online.
Lawmakers from both parties said that the committee’s work could be used as a guide for future business growth. Rep. Jeff Helfrich, R-Hood River, said that Oregon has a reputation for not being business-friendly, but lawmakers are finding ways to show businesses that the state is open.
“Uncertainty has kept businesses from investing in our state for far too long,” Helfrich said.
Senate Majority Leader Kate Lieber, a Democrat from Beaverton, said that over the past few weeks, she has learned that the state doesn’t know where available industrial land is or what needs to be ready for development.
Here is Tweet related to this news given below-
.#orleg advanced two big packages yesterday both for $200 million – on housing/homelessness and on semiconductors. Here's the latter: https://t.co/Hh0GtLzYUf
— Lynne Terry (@LynnePDX) March 16, 2023
She said that the Legislature and state government should keep working to make sure there is land for manufacturing.
“This is part of a bigger strategy that the state of Oregon really needs to look at,” Lieber said. “We can be proud of this bill, we know it’s a start.”
Only California and Texas have more people working in the semiconductor industry than in Oregon. More than 40,000 Oregonians work in the industry.
Even though Oregon is home to only 1.3% of the U.S. population, it has about 15% of the country’s semiconductor workers.
About half of the people working in semiconductors in Oregon work for Intel, the state’s largest private employer, with almost 22,000 workers in Washington County. Fifteen of Oregon’s 37 counties are where Intel gets its supplies.
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