Biden to Visit Arizona Computer Chip Site, Highlight Jobs

(AP) —

President Joe Biden on Tuesday plans to visit the building site for a new computer chip plant in Arizona, using it as a chance to emphasize how his policies are fostering job growth in what could be a challenge to the incoming Republican House majority.

Biden has staked his legacy in large part on major investments in technology and infrastructure that were approved by Congress along bipartisan lines. The Democratic president maintains that the factory jobs fostered by $52 billion in semiconductor investments and another $200 billion for scientific research will help to revive the U.S. middle class.

“This is actually about building an economic strategy that goes beyond semiconductors,” said Brian Deese, director of the White House National Economic Council. “This is a marked departure from the economic philosophy that has governed for much of the last 40 years in this country, which was a sort of trickle-down economic strategy.”

But there are signs that past moments of bipartisanship on economic matters may be harder to replicate after November’s midterm elections, in which Republicans won a House majority. Biden still pitches the investments as a sign of what happens when lawmakers partner with each other, but Republican House Leader Kevin McCarthy, who could be the next Speaker, attacked the legislation in a July floor speech as a “blank check” and “corporate welfare.”

Biden is visiting a plant under construction by the Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. that was announced in 2020 during Donald Trump’s presidency. TSMC will also announce a second plant in Arizona on Tuesday. Biden administration officials said the two TSMC plants, as well as new factories by Intel, Micron, Wolfspeed and others, could give a decisive edge to the American military and economy at a time when competition with China is heating up.

The White House has simultaneously launched a video campaign to highlight the array of non-tech jobs associated with the semiconductor industry.

Featured in the video campaign is Paul Sarzoza, president and CEO of Verde Clean. Sarzoza founded the company in 2019. It won a contract to clean TSMC’s construction site, accounting for a third of its 150 jobs. Sarzoza’s company will clean the semiconductor plant.

The government’s investment was key for his company’s growth, and he expects to add 150 to 200 more employees next year.

“It’s one step at a time,” Sarzoza said. “But it’s a tremendous opportunity for us.”

Biden uses his visits to chip plants to talk about the jobs he expects will come to those regions, a process that could take a decade or longer to come to full fruition. Companies could face a challenge in finding educated workers for jobs with incomes averaging over $100,000 a year, according to Labor Department figures.

Ronnie Chatterji, White House coordinator for the chip investments, said these investments will shape entire regions of the country in ways that are overlooked now.

“Ten years from now we’ll be talking about all the jobs in Arizona,” Chatterji said in an interview. “You won’t be able to talk about that part of Arizona without thinking about the impact of those companies.”

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