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Biden Cabinet members praise Purdue’s semiconductor efforts

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. (WISH) — Two members of President Joe Biden’s cabinet on Tuesday said Purdue University’s recent efforts show what America’s semiconductor industry could look like.

Secretary of State Anthony Blinken and Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo joined Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb and U.S. Sen. Todd Young on a tour of Purdue’s Birck Nanotechnology Center. The Republican senator from Indiana co-sponsored the Creating Helpful Incentives to Produce Semiconductors Act — it’s also called “the CHIPS Act” — which provides $50 billion in federal funding for semiconductor manufacturing. Slightly more than $13 billion of that figure comprises research and development incentives while the rest is for manufacturers.

Blinken and Raimondo said semiconductor manufacturing is as much a national security issue as it is an economic one, hence the interest from both of the Cabinet members’ departments. Blinken said the federal act mirrors similar investments he has seen other countries make, which he likened to governors providing incentives to relocate to their states.

“This is about investing in ourselves, and the fact is when we invest in ourselves that has very positive and powerful effects on our standing in the world,” he said.

Raimondo said she was “blown away” by what she saw on campus, especially from interacting with the students at the center’s lab. She said the Midwest’s strong public, land-grant universities coupled with its relative safety from the worst effects of climate change make it an ideal place for advanced technology manufacturing. Raimondo, herself a former governor of Rhode Island, said anyone interested in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) careers should look for opportunities in the middle of the country rather than limiting their search to the coasts.

“It’s in your bones to make things here, and we have to get back to making the next generation of advanced manufacturing,” she said.

Purdue officials credit the federal act’s incentives with SkyWater Technology’s announcement in July it will build a semiconductor manufacturing facility next to the university campus. Moving forward, University President Mitch Daniels said Purdue plans to partner with Ivy Tech and Vincennes University to expand the STEM talent pool, providing associates’ degrees and certifications needed for technology-related fields as well as providing more pathways for students to get into four-year or advanced-degree programs.