President Obama to visit Intel chip plant on Wednesday

The president began his tenure by investing heavily in grants for the alternative energy and clean-technology industries, particularly through the 2009 Recovery Act. The administration has also funneled billions into expanding broadband Internet access and is seeking additional spectrum for wireless.

The tech industry has welcomed the administration's efforts at outreach but complained of the scarcity of qualified workers with advanced degrees in science and engineering. The Obama administration has promised to reform science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) education but in the short term, firms are looking outside the United States.

Lobbying has been fierce for a compromise that would let science and engineering students remain in the United States after graduation, rather than forcing them to find a firm that will sponsor their visa or green card. But any form of immigration reform remains a tough sell politically with the stagnant unemployment rate.