Vice President Kamala Harris visited Applied Materials in Sunnyvale on Monday to celebrate the chip-equipment maker's $4 billion investment in a new research-and-development facility.
The center in Silicon Valley would be the largest of its kind in the semiconductor industry, dedicated to quickly developing new tools and production techniques for the chip business. The 180,000-square-foot facility is expected to employ 1,500 construction workers during construction and 2,000 engineering jobs once construction is complete.
The investment coincides with the Biden Administration's $53 billion investment towards semiconductor manufacturing and research. Signed last August, the CHIPS and Science Act uses federal funds to incentivize domestic semiconductor companies to keep manufacturing in the U.S.
Harris said the investment is an effort to keep the U.S. as a lead competitor in industries like nanotechnology, clean energy, quantum computing and artificial intelligence for years to come. The act has prompted private companies to invest an additional $140 billion to the domestic semiconductor manufacturing industry according to the Biden Administration.
The act was signed in response to the chip shortage during the COVID-19 pandemic, which showed just how much the U.S. economy depends on overseas companies for essential technology needed in all of our electrical products, like computers, smart phones, air conditioners or washing machines.
“As everyone here knows, semiconductors are the brain of modern technology,” Harris said during a press conference on Monday.
“Everything you do on your phone - take photographs, send emails, stream movies, video chat with friends - is made possible by this technology. Without semiconductors, your smartphone would not be a smartphone: it would be a paper weight,” she added.
During her visit, Harris also met with heads of prominent semiconductor manufacturing, design and supply chain companies to discuss ways to invest in American jobs and manufacturing opportunities.
“The discoveries that are being made here will have a profound impact on people you may never meet, who may never know your name, but whose lives will forever be changed, because of your work and the work you do here,” Harris said.
Olivia Wynkoop is a reporter with Bay City News.