President Biden appears virtually at CHIPS Act celebration in Hemlock

HEMLOCK, Mich. (WJRT) – President Joe Biden was part of a virtual event in Saginaw County to celebrate the passage the CHIPS and Science Act on Tuesday.

The bill will provide billions of dollars in funding to jump start semiconductor chip production in the U.S. and in Michigan.

The semiconductor chip shortage has forced automakers to cancel shifts and store vehicles until enough chips are available to sell them. The goal of this legislation is to make sure American manufacturers make more of those chips.

Biden, who plans to sign the bill next week, had to remain in Washington, D.C. and skip an in-person event Tuesday at Hemlock Semiconductor in Thomas Township after he tested positive for COVID-19 over the weekend. 

“I was looking forward to visiting all of you in person, but I am glad I could still meet you virtually,” Biden said.

Hemlock Semiconductor manufactures polysilicon, which is a key ingredient in the semiconductors that are used in a variety of electronics and vehicles.

“The way I see this bill in Michigan is it’s about CHIPS and it’s about cars,” Biden said. “The bill will supercharge our efforts to make semiconductors here in America.”

The CHIPS and Science Act will allocate $52 billion for companies to build microchip manufacturing facilities in the U.S., including $2 billion in subsidies set aside for legacy chips used in vehicles.

“It’s a local issue for us,” said Congressman Dan Kildee. “I look at the thousands of vehicles sitting idle and that translates to me, the people I work for, losing their jobs. So when we bring chip manufacturing back to the U.S, not only does that create a whole industry and support companies like this, but it strengthens Michigan manufacturing.”

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer said microchip manufacturing has grown in other countries. That problem was exposed during the COVID-19 pandemic, as those other countries had to shut down semiconductor producing facilities.

Whitmer signed an executive directive at Tuesday’s event, directing state agencies to utilize the funds here.

“Companies are reaching into Michigan, and when they do we want to be able to say we are the fastest moving government,” she said. “We are ready, we have the workforce, we have the sites.”