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CHIPS Act funds will flow into Arizona, but China remains far ahead in semiconductor manufacturing

By Steve Goldstein, Nicholas Gerbis
Published: Tuesday, August 9, 2022 - 11:37am
Updated: Thursday, August 11, 2022 - 4:06pm
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The shortage of semiconductor chips for products like cars and smartphones was exacerbated by supply chain issues amid the pandemic. On Aug. 9, President Joe Biden signed the CHIPS and Science Act of 2022 into law, which will lead to more than $52 billion being put toward U.S. manufacturing of the chips.

To learn about the policy's potential impact, The Show heard from two perspectives.

Chris Camacho is president and CEO of the Greater Phoenix Economic Council (GPEC). Speaking from a coffee shop, he started by explaining his reaction to the CHIPS and Science Act finally making it to the finish line.

For a broader view of how Arizona and manufacturers based here could be affected by the law, The Show also spoke with Richard Waters, the West Coast editor for the Financial Times who has been following the chip industry and the supply chain challenges.

The CHIPS Act will do more than help reclaim America's foothold in the semiconductor industry. It will also boost green technologies, support STEM education and create jobs.

"It's really important to the STEM fields and incenting research and development, innovation, competition with others, especially China. So it's a critical piece of legislation to the technology industry and, I think, to the future of Arizona," said Steve Zylstra, who leads the Arizona Technology Council and the SciTech Institute.

Zylstra participated in early efforts to create a "STEM ecosystem" of business, education and community groups to support science, technology, engineering and math, especially in rural communities.

"We had been working very closely with Senator Kelly's office for almost a year supporting that piece of legislation and a lot of the other stuff that ended up in that bill," he said. "We were excited for the tech industry in Arizona. We're excited for STEM education, for what it means for the universities and especially what it means for the semiconductor industry in Arizona."

Zylstra added that Arizona is a "microelectronics epicenter" in the U.S., and said that many chip makers are looking to expand their operations in the state.

"Economic developers would tell you that their pipelines are full of chip-related companies that are looking at Arizona, and this piece of legislation will definitely help incent many of them to set up operations in Arizona," he said.

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