The world’s top semiconductor makers have announced in recent months long-term U.S. investments that could rise to more than $400 billion, citing support from a new federal aid program for which the rules have yet to be written.
Intel, Micron, IBM, Samsung, Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. and others say their plans to build or expand U.S. semiconductor fabrication facilities, or fabs, are at least in part dependent on getting federal grants.
The companies’ widely publicized announcements, with President Joe Biden participating in an Intel groundbreaking in Ohio and visiting an IBM plant in New York, are a sign of the political, economic and security motives that led Congress to enact a law in August meant to revive U.S. manufacturing of semiconductor chips.
But the announcements also came months before the Commerce Department, which is managing almost $50 billion in grant money appropriated by the law, sets rules for distributing the aid. The department plans to begin taking applications in February, and the first grants aren’t likely to be awarded until the early summer of 2024.
The early announcements —and their size — have echoes of an event in 2018 in Wisconsin where President Donald Trump, Gov. Scott Walker and House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., joined Foxconn CEO Terry Gou to break ground on a $10 billion project to make flat-panel displays for TVs and smart phones. More than four years later, the company has reduced the project investment to a few hundred million dollars, citing weak demand and inadequate supplier base.