When the federal CHIPS Act was passed this summer, Intel’s massive new semiconductor production site being built in central Ohio received most of the headlines.
The CHIPS Act will provide huge support to giant companies like Intel, but it was also passed to help grow smaller manufacturers likes Silfex, which has locations in Springfield and Eaton.
U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown, D-Cleveland, visited the company’s Springfield location Wednesday and talked about how companies like Silfex are poised to continue their growth in Ohio.
“America invented the semiconductor. Yet today, 90 percent of them are made overseas. That ends now,” said Brown. “Places like Silfex and Lam Research recognized the threat from foreign companies stealing our ideas. They bucked the trend and brought silicon growing and processing back to the U.S. and now we are creating an economy that puts American jobs and American production and American workers first.”
The CHIPS Act includes semiconductor manufacturing grants, research investments, and an investment tax credit for chip manufacturing. It also supports enactment of an investment tax credit for semiconductor design.
In January, Intel first unveiled its plan to invest at least $20 billion in chip-making capacity in two plants outside Columbus, employing some 3,000 workers long-term, in part to answer a global chip shortage that has affected more than one industry.
Intel last month broke ground for dual chip factories in Licking County. Just in construction, the Intel project would mean some 5,000 building trades workers working for 10 years, and perhaps more, Brown has said.
“We have seen for a generation large corporations lobby Congress for trade agreements like NAFTA ... that move jobs offshore,” Brown said. “We’ve seen those same large corporations lobby Congress for tax breaks to move jobs in search of cheap labor.”
The CHIPS Act represented a “conscious decision” to “begin the work of reshoring these jobs” in America, he said.
“So this is sort of the beginning, the turnaround, to reindustrialize America,” the senator added. “That’s why I call it a new industrial policy — many of us have been calling for this for decades, and now we’re finally doing it.”
Silfex, a division of Lam Research Corp., makes the parts used in the equipment semiconductor manufacturers use to make chips.
“It’s clear that America’s reliance on foreign-made computer chips has become one of our nation’s most pressing national security concerns, and it threatens the future competitiveness of U.S. manufacturers — in Ohio and every other state,” said Ryan Augsburger, president of the Ohio Manufacturing Association. “By enacting the CHIPS Act, federal policymakers demonstrated they could set aside partisan differences to tackle the most serious economic and geopolitical challenges.”
“While the federal legislation is playing a valuable role in this new development, it’s still just an incentive. The private sector — whether it’s Intel, Micron, or another company — is taking the risk and making the investment,” he added.
Eaton-based Silfex has continued to grow its Springfield workforce since it first announced plans to expand into the area in 2017. By the end of 2021, it had surpassed its initial goal of having 400 people committed to the Springfield facility.