Pres. Biden celebrates (virtually) passage of the CHIPS Act at event in Saginaw County

President Joe Biden took part — virtually — in a Tuesday event in Saginaw County celebrating the recent passage of the CHIPS Act.

The act authorizes a $52 billion federal investment over the next five years in domestic semiconductor manufacturing and provides a 25% tax credit for new or expanded facilities that make semiconductors or related equipment.

Biden, speaking on a large television monitor via a livestream from the White House, called semiconductor chips “the building blocks” of the modern economy.

“The way I see this bill, it’s about chips and it’s about cars,” Biden told the audience at Hemlock Semiconductor, “The bill will supercharge our efforts to make semiconductors here in America.”

That is welcome news to many industries, but perhaps more to Michigan’s automakers.

A chip shortage during the COVID-19 pandemic forced auto companies to delay manufacturing as they scrambled to find enough computers chips to finish vehicles.

Steve Dawes is the Region 1D United Auto Workers union director.

He said the CHIPS Act is a start.

“You have to start somewhere,” said Dawes, “and when you can start on a rock hard foundation you can only build up. That’s right here in the great state of Michigan.

To help Michigan prepare for money made available through the CHIPS Act, Governor Gretchen Whitmer signed an executive directive that she said instructs state government departments and agencies to leverage the CHIPS and Science Act to bring projects and jobs to Michigan.

Whitmer called the CHIPS Act “a once-in-a-century investment.”

Biden was originally scheduled to attend the event at Hemlock Semiconductor, but had to change his plans after a recent positive COVID test.