In August 2022, President Biden signed into law the CHIPS and Science Act (CHIPS+), which provides $280 billion over ten years to revitalize semiconductor research, development and manufacturing. This bipartisan compromise bill brought together the Senate-passed U.S. Innovation and Competition Act (USICA) and the House-passed America COMPETES Act of 2022. CHIPS+ will create good jobs and enhance global competitiveness, thereby benefiting cities and towns.
Over the last few months, federal agencies have been working to stand up the various programs funded through the CHIPS+ legislation including those that provide for economic growth and development and investments in our nation’s workers. The Department of Commerce launched its CHIPS for America strategy – a $50 billion investment in the semiconductor industry. The strategy includes a focus on the workforce pipeline and an expansion of that pipeline to those who have historically participated in this industry.
This month, the Department of Commerce CHIPS program office launched its first Notice of Funding Opportunity (NOFO) for manufacturing incentives to restore U.S. leadership in semiconductor manufacturing. Additionally, the Department of Commerce launched two Requests for Information (RFI) for programs that NLC has championed. These programs will play an important role in bolstering the work that communities have undertaken with their ARPA funds.
Commercial Fabrication Facilities Notice of Funding Opportunity
The first CHIPS for America funding opportunity will provide funding for projects to “construct, expand or modernize commercial facilities for the production of leading-edge, current-generation and mature-node semiconductors”. Cities are eligible applicants for these funds as part of a “consortium of nonprofit, public, and private entities with a demonstrated ability to substantially finance, construct, or expand a facility that is eligible under the funding opportunity”. Applications will be evaluated for “commercial viability, financial strength, technical feasibility and readiness, workforce development, and efforts to spur inclusive economic growth.”
Competitive applications to this program will have to submit workforce development plans for the workers who will operate these facilities as well as for those who will complete the construction to build the facilities. These plans will address how they will work with workforce partners to invest in sector-based workforce strategies to meet the construction and manufacturing needs. Successful applicants will also demonstrate how this workforce plan will serve historically underserved communities, including people of color, people from rural communities, veterans, and women. Applicants requesting direct funding over $150 million must also submit a plan to provide childcare for both the facility and Contruction workforce associated with the project.
Pre-applications (optional) and full applications for leading-edge facilities will be accepted on a rolling basis beginning March 31, 2023. Pre-applications (recommended) for current-generation, mature-node, and back-end production facilities will be accepted on a rolling basis beginning May 1, 2023, and full applications for these categories will be accepted on a rolling basis beginning June 26, 2023.
For Fact Sheets, FAQs and application instructions, please visit the CHIPS for America site.
Regional Technology and Innovation Hubs (Tech Hubs)
As part of the FY23 Omnibus Appropriations Bill, Congress appropriated $500 million to the Economic Development Agency (EDA) at the Department of Commerce for the Tech Hubs program. This program works to drive technology growth in regions of our country by supporting regional sector-based strategies in regional technology and innovation that will increase American competitiveness and security while also supporting the economic development of small and rural communities. Tech Hubs will focus on technology development, job creation, entrepreneurial development, and expanding U.S. innovation capacity.
The EDA recently released this fact sheet with more details about the Tech Hubs program including how the funding will be allocated, when you can apply, and eligibility.
Recompete Pilot Program
Also included in the FY23 Omnibus Appropriations Bill was a $200 million appropriation for the Recompete Pilot program. This program is authorized at $1 billion, and this initial investment will allow EDA to begin to develop and plan for the program’s design.
The Recompete pilot program will provide for 10-year grants to distressed communities, those with lower-than-average labor force participation, to develop and implement economic development strategies that can be used for infrastructure investments, brownfield redevelopment, workforce development, small business assistance, resources to connect residents to opportunities, and other investments to help communities rebuild.
EDA recently released a Request for Information to solicit public input on the program design. City leaders are encouraged to respond to this RFI by March 27, 2023, to share their local perspective on how these Hubs might be structured and how local government should be a key stakeholder in coordinating this program.