Biden calls CHIPS Act a ‘game-changer’ during Bay County semiconductor plant tour

By: - November 30, 2022 3:57 am

President Joe Biden delivers remarks on his American Jobs Plan and the Ford F-150 Lightning electric pickup truck at the Ford Motor Co. Rouge Electric Vehicle Center in Dearborn, where the truck will be produced, on Tuesday, May 18. (Andrew Roth | Michigan Advance)

President Joe Biden was in Michigan Tuesday to spotlight the expansion of a semiconductor manufacturing facility as he reinforces his economic agenda in advance of a Republican takeover in the House.

Biden was in the Bay City area to visit the plant owned and operated by SK Siltron of South Korea. The $300 million expansion is expected to create an estimated 150 jobs while quadrupling the Monitor Township plant’s output over the next few years.

The president toured the facility with Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, U.S. Rep. Dan Kildee (D-Flint) and incoming Michigan House Speaker Joe Tate (D-Detroit), along with Steve Claywell, president of Michigan Building Trades, and SK Siltron CEO Jianwei Dong.

Following the tour, Biden congratulated Whitmer on her reelection win earlier this month, mentioning the landmark Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, a $1.2 trillion package signed late last year that was the biggest infrastructure investment in American history.

Former President Barack Obama speaks at a rally with Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and other Michigan Democrats in Detroit on Oct. 29, 2022. (Andrew Roth/Michigan Advance)

“Governor? We fixed your damned roads,” said Biden, alluding to Whitmer’s campaign slogan in her 2018 run for office. 

He then referenced The CHIPS and Science Act, which passed earlier this year and provided $52 billion in incentives to boost domestic semiconductor production and research like that underway at SK Siltron. 

Calling it a “game changer,” Biden reiterated the importance of making the chips in the United States.

“We invented the chip in America, then we got lazy,” said the president. “Companies began to move jobs overseas, instead of products overseas, because it was cheaper for them.

The global shortage of semiconductor chips plagued the U.S automotive industry, impacting more than 575,000 auto-related jobs nationwide. It has been a particular concern to Michigan, the home of General Motors, Ford and Stellantis. 

Semiconductors are essential to vehicle production, especially electric vehicles. Semiconductors are required for the various monitors and sensors throughout for vehicles to operate properly.

Biden added that despite concerns over a potential recession, he had “never been as optimistic about America as I have been these last several years,” emphasizing that unemployment remains low, while inflation has begun to ease.

He also noted that families in Michigan were paying $170 a month less than what they were paying over the summer, which he attributed this to action by his administration, including his decision to release oil from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve.

“We’re laser focused on this, I promise you,” said Biden, who has been aggressively touting his administration’s investments during the first two years of his term.

With Republicans set to gain control of the House in January, the expectation of further landmark legislation seems remote as GOP leaders instead seem focused on investigations of Biden’s son, Hunter, as well immigration at the U.S.-Mexico border and conspiracies about the COVID-19 pandemic.

U.S. Rep. John Moolenaar | Ken Coleman

One Michigan Republican who criticized Biden’s trip was U.S. Rep. John Moolenaar (R-Midland), who issued a statement saying the president had “already failed Michigan families and his massive partisan spending bills have helped cause record-high inflation, adding, “The sad truth is he signed a $300 billion tax hike on American manufacturers last summer,” referring to the Inflation Reduction Act.

That legislation, which is expected to reduce the federal deficit by an estimated $300 billion over the next decade, set the minimum tax rate for corporations making more than $1 billion a year at 15%, which would affect companies like JPMorgan Chase, Alphabet, the parent company of Google, and Facebook’s parent company, Meta.

Biden’s visit was his seventh to Michigan as president. He was forced to cancel a planned trip in August to celebrate the CHIPS Act in Saginaw County after he was diagnosed with a so-called “rebound” case of COVID-19, but did a virtual event instead.

His last trip to the state was in September when he attended the North American International Auto Show in Detroit, after which he did a fundraiser for Whitmer and other Democrats.


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Jon King
Jon King

Jon King is the Senior Reporter for the Michigan Advance and has been a journalist for more than 35 years. He is the Past President of the Michigan Associated Press Media Editors Association and has been recognized for excellence numerous times, most recently in 2022 with the Best Investigative Story by the Michigan Association of Broadcasters. He is also an adjunct faculty member at Cleary University. Jon and his family live in Howell.