Washington – The U.S. Senate today passed a sweeping $200 billion bill to help the nation compete against China by making one of the largest federal investments in scientific research and technology in decades.
Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., said he crafted the legislation with an eye on transforming Upstate New York’s economy into a technology hub specializing in semiconductor manufacturing.
The U.S. Innovation and Competition Act will make investments to boost industries viewed as critical to America’s competitiveness against China, the world’s second-largest economy.
The bill provides $52 billion to help semiconductor manufacturers open U.S. plants, and includes investments in artificial intelligence, 5G telecommunications, quantum computing, biotechnology, and advanced energy.
The legislation also sets aside $10 billion to establish 18 technology hubs in cities across the nation that have not traditionally been considered as hubs for research and innovation such as Silicon Valley in California.
Syracuse and Central New York business and political leaders say the region will apply to become one of the 18 regional tech hubs.
Schumer, the senate majority leader, said after the vote that he views the legislation as key to the economic future of Upstate New York.
“With its rare combination of a world-class workforce, advanced manufacturers, and renowned higher education institutions, I wrote and championed this legislation with Upstate New York always at the forefront of my mind,” Schumer said.
Schumer said he envisions Upstate New York – with a plentiful supply of water and electricity needed to make semiconductor chips – serving as a global hub for chip manufacturing.
Onondaga County Executive Ryan McMahon said the bill could be a game-changer when it comes to attracting semiconductor manufacturers to open new plants in the United States.
McMahon and Schumer have been touting the White Pine Commerce Park on Route 31 in Clay as a prime location for a new semiconductor plant.
Such plants typically cost billions of dollars to build and employ more than 1,000 people.
“Passing this bill is a significantly important step towards securing a semiconductor manufacturing facility in Onondaga County,” McMahon said after the Senate vote today.
“Our site is known across the globe for its easy access to affordable water and power along with our great quality of life,” McMahon said of the 1,200-acre Clay property.
Schumer told syracuse.com | The Post-Standard in January that he will use his influence as Senate majority leader to steer semiconductor chip makers to Onondaga County.
He said the CEOs of three of the world’s major semiconductor makers have told him that White Pine Commerce Park is in the running to host a chip fab plant.
Schumer said he also brought the site to the attention of President Joe Biden.
The senator said the property north of Route 31 in Clay stands out among a handful nationwide as a prime location for a semiconductor manufacturing plant because of its proximity to infrastructure that can meet unusually high demands for water, electricity, natural gas, and sewage treatment.
In 2019, the site was a finalist for a $12 billion semiconductor plant to be built by Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co., also known as TSMC, according to McMahon.
Among the companies looking at potential manufacturing sites in Upstate New York are South Korea’s Samsung Electronics Co. and U.S.-based Micron Technology.
Schumer said he met last month with Micron President and CEO Sanjay Mehrotra to pitch him about four potential manufacturing sites in Upstate New York.
Schumer said he encouraged Micron to look at White Pine in Clay, Marcy Nanocenter in the Mohawk Valley, Luther Forest in the Albany region and the STAMP campus in Western New York.
Democrats and Republicans worked together on the Senate bill, which Schumer wrote with Sen. Todd Young, a Republican from Indiana. The nearly 1,500-page bill included dozens of GOP amendments in a sign of the bill’s wide bipartisan support.
In a speech on the Senate floor before the vote, Schumer told senators that the bipartisan bill “could be the turning point for American leadership in the 21st Century. And for that reason, this legislation will go down as one of the most significant, bipartisan achievements of the U.S. Senate in recent history.”
The bill passed the Senate 68-32, with the support of 49 Democrats and 19 Republicans.
Sen. Bernie Sanders, an independent who meets with the Democratic caucus, voted with 31 Republicans against the measure.
The final bill included the Endless Frontier Act – a previous standalone bill written by Schumer and Young – that provides $10 billion to establish the 18 regional tech hubs for research, development, and workforce training.
Syracuse is an ideal candidate for a hub, Schumer said, because of the city’s plan to invest more than $200 million in technology and become one of the nation’s first interconnected “smart cities” using 5G wireless technology.
He said it helps that Syracuse and Onondaga County are moving forward with the development of a $75 million Syracuse STEAM high school, and that Central New York has been designated by the federal government as a national center for drone research and testing.
Syracuse Mayor Ben Walsh and Syracuse University Chancellor Kent Syverud are among local leaders backing the push for Central New York to compete for a hub.
Rob Simpson, president of CenterState CEO, a Syracuse-based economic development organization, said he has been advocating for Schumer’s bill and the idea of the tech hubs for at least five years.
“We have every intention of working with local partners to make sure Syracuse and Central New York have the strongest possible application,” Simpson said in an interview. “We think it has a huge economic upside for the region.”
The legislation faces an uncertain path in the House, where Speaker Nancy Pelosi has not said whether Democratic-led committees will come up with similar legislation or back the Senate bill.
Biden has signaled his support for the bill and has called for spending $50 billion to boost U.S. semiconductor manufacturing and research.