Biden calls Intel’s $20B investment to build chip factories a tool for economic recovery

President Biden on Friday commended Intel’s $20 billion investment to build chip factories as a tool for the U.S. economy to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic.

“During this pandemic, your pocketbooks felt the consequences. Inflation, higher prices,” Biden said in remarks at the White House, adding that COVID-19 has compounded problems with chips, so products like cars and dishwashers are delayed and demand is high. 

“Because supply is low, we find ourselves in a position where we’re really behind the curve. Prices are going up,” he added.

Intel’s investment aims to boost production to help meet demand for semiconductors amid a shortage of computer chips worldwide. 

“My administration’s going to keep using all the tools we have to reshore our supply chains, strengthen our economic resilience, and make more in America,” Biden said. “Because at the end of the day, this is about national security, economic security, and it’s about jobs. Good paying, decent jobs you can raise a family on.”

Patrick Gelsinger, CEO of Intel, joined Biden for his remarks, as well as Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo and Ohio Sens. Rob Portman (R) and Sherrod Brown (D).

Intel’s “mega-site” will be constructed outside of Columbus, Ohio on 1,000 acres of land in Licking County, and construction is expected to start near the end of 2022 and be completed in 2025.

Biden said the U.S. has access to raw materials “we didn’t know we had” when asked about how the country could guarantee the raw materials from places like Afghanistan to build semiconductors. 

“We’re working on that. There’s a lot not in Afghanistan. There’s a lot, we’ve been finding out and moving on directions to find where the raw materials are,” he said.

Biden also addressed Americans who might be curious about why semiconductors are so important.

“Semiconductors are small computer chips that power virtually everything in our lives: your phone, your car, your refrigerator, your washer machine, hospital equipment, the internet, the electric grid and so much more,” he said.

The Intel project will initially create 7,000 construction jobs and 3,000 Intel jobs with thousands of more long-term jobs expected in the future.

Biden touted Intel’s investment as a step to excel American competitiveness.

“To be able to say, made in Ohio, made in America — what we used to always be able to say 25, 30 years ago—that’s what this is about,” the president said.

Seventy-five percent of chip production takes place in East Asia, and 90 percent of most advanced chips are made in Taiwan, according to Biden.

“Other countries are closing in fast. As a result, today, we barely produce 10 percent of the computer chips despite being the leader in chip design and research. We don’t have the ability to make the most advanced chips right now,” he said. 

He called on Congress to pass the U.S. Innovation and Competition Act, spearheaded by Portman and Brown, to invest in manufacturing and address the global semiconductor shortage. 

He said it would be “another piece of historic bipartisan legislation,” alongside the bipartisan infrastructure law he signed in November.  For the first time in two decades, U.S. infrastructure investment will grow faster than China’s investments in infrastructure,” Biden said. 

“We are better positioned globally than we have been in a long, long time. Intel’s historic investment is one example,” he said.