The Success of US Chip Manufacturing Hinges on Our Electric Grid

Advanced semiconductor equipment requires 10 times more power. Our grid is not up to the task.
By Sarah Shinton

In 2022, the White House signed the CHIPS and Science Act into law, a bipartisan effort to increase domestic advanced semiconductor manufacturing. The legislation made a historic $52 billion investment in American semiconductor research, manufacturing and workforce development.

Over a year later, new projects are facing construction delays and permitting issues, raising concerns over efforts to expand domestic manufacturing despite legislative support. Worse yet, the country might be unable to generate enough electricity to power new fabrication plants, leaving billions of dollars in federal funds stranded and one of its most critical supply chains vulnerable.

The U.S. imports most of its advanced semiconductor chips from Taiwan, a trend the Biden Administration is trying to reverse as Chinese aggression towards the island grows. Just over 100 miles from mainland China, headquartered in the Hsinchu Science Park, is the Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TSMC), the world’s leading semiconductor manufacturer. Read More

‘Made in USA’ Works Well for Us

More manufacturers could benefit, if they put the effort into calculating the deeper competitive advantages and savings.
Industry Week
Employment in U.S. manufacturing currently stands at just under 13 million workers. Manufacturing’s peak of 19.5 million jobs occurred in June 1979. 

While some of this 40-year decline resulted from the change in skills manufacturers needed from workers over time, another catalyst is the ruthless race to find cheaper labor, parts and production in other countries.

In his book “Made in the USA: The Rise and Retreat of American Manufacturing,” author Vaclav Smil points out that “an excessive dependence on imports, and the systematic outsourcing of entire industries, will eventually weaken the strongest economies.”

U.S.-made is a point of pride for me and many manufacturers. “Made in the U.S.A.” means more than just higher quality. Made in the U.S.A. means stronger supply chains and potentially a lower total cost to operate my business. The U.S.-made label also entails providing better-paying jobs for American workers who can thrive. Read More

Solidarity First: Building A Movement For Just & Sustainable Economies In Quebec

Book Available: The Canadian CED Network and Effect
Author: Nancy Neamtan
Year: 2023

Download Here

The story of Quebec’s social economy movement is little known in Canada and even in many parts of Quebec. This may seem surprising given the interest that the Quebec model of social economy has aroused and still arouses in many countries and international organizations on all continents.

And yet, social economy remains a vague concept for many people, often associated with social activist and the “management” of poverty. This perception is in sharp contrast with reality: there are more than 7,000 collective enterprises in Quebec active in a wide variety of economic sectors. The social economy is an integral part of our socio-economic structure, is growing steadily throughout Quebec and is increasingly shaping global development strategies. Its various realities and impacts have been the subject of many scientific works: they have been analyzed from every angle. In general, the verdict is positive and the benefits are documented more and more through quantitative and qualitative studies.

But the social economy is more than the sum of many collective enterprises operating in various sectors with similar modes of organization. To understand Quebec’s social economy, it is not enough to display columns of figures showing the volume of business transactions and the sums invested or accumulated. For the history of the social economy is above all the story of women and men, communities, entrepreneurs, consumers, investors who are committed to the creation of a movement for economic democratization. READ MORE

Biden’s Manufacturing Boom Is Underway. But The Jobs Haven’t Followed Yet

By ADAM CANCRYN

Politico

Jan 19, 2024 – Biden’s manufacturing boom is underway. But the jobs haven’t followed yet.
The new manufacturing jobs tied to Biden’s investment plans are coming — but maybe not until after the election.

President Joe Biden believes he’s got the U.S. on the verge of a boom time for American manufacturing.

He just needs to convince voters to keep him in office long enough to see it through.

In swing states and factory towns, Biden is making a resurgence in domestic manufacturing central to his reelection pitch. He’s highlighting a surge of investments across the nation as evidence that an economic agenda centered on reviving the country’s industrial core is just starting to pay off.

But 10 months out from the election, those new factory projects remain in their early stages — and have yet to generate an anticipated wave of manufacturing jobs. And after a pandemic-era rebound, industry hiring overall has turned stagnant: Manufacturers added just 12,000 jobs in 2023 amid an extended business slowdown.

The lull has threatened to complicate the White House’s depiction of an economy that’s entered a manufacturing renaissance, feeding fears that Biden is losing ground among voters in key battleground states — even as he advances policies aimed squarely at boosting their communities in the long run.

“The messaging is challenging — people actually need to see the results for themselves,” said Rep. Dan Kildee of Michigan, where recent polls show Biden trailing GOP frontrunner Donald Trump. “We’ve got our work cut out for us.”

Biden is spending the first weeks of 2024 trying to make headway on that front, foreshadowing a campaign that will increasingly make the argument that his industrial strategy is poised to succeed where Trump and others before him failed.

Enticed by a range of new subsidies and tax breaks, manufacturers have poured roughly $220 billion over the last 18 months into manufacturing construction on Biden’s watch. New factories will eventually make the car parts, computer chips and construction materials that the U.S. has long relied on foreign countries to provide. Read More

A Factory in Maine Proves ‘Made in America’ Is Still Possible


By Rachel Slade

NYT Op-Ed, Jan. 5, 2024

Growing up, my parents drove my brothers and me around in lumbering Fords and ungainly Oldsmobiles until one fateful day in the summer of 1980, when my dad showed up in a brand new, all-beige VW Rabbit. It was a completely foreign thing, something from the future, a compact — perish the thought — German automobile. Buying a European car was now OK, my dad made a point of telling us, because this one was made in the U.S.A.

I inherited my father’s “made in the U.S.A.” credo, obsessively hunting for labels, flipping over plates and chairs and turning clothes inside out to find a country of origin. Which is how, over the ensuing decades, I became exquisitely aware that much of the stuff I bought was no longer made in the U.S.A. Everything from my Gap sweatshirts in the ’90s to my clunky desktop in the early aughts, and eventually to my refrigerator and dishwasher, was made elsewhere.

What happened to manufacturing in America and the environmental and economic consequences of offshoring — companies sending their manufacturing abroad — is a story we think we know. The demise of American production seems inevitable, the result of the rise of globalization and free trade. But now we are learning that the precipitous decline was the result of a steady, concerted, decades-long effort among power brokers to wrest the economy from a worker-dependent model to one where skilled workers are expendable. Corporate executives sold free trade to policymakers as a way to lower consumer pricing, but the human and political costs of offshoring were high. Read More

Isthmus Engineering: A Case Study on Worker Co-op Governance

Link to YouTube here

This webinar brings to life a case example of a worker-owned co-operative in a technical field. Learn about how the co-op manages participation and governance, project management techniques to streamline democratic decision-making, running meetings that work and other aspects of worker ownership and governance. Ole Olson, speaker, has worked for co-operatives for over 40 years including the past 30 years as a Member/Owner of Isthmus Engineering and Manufacturing Cooperative.

Ohio’s Rustbelt Turns Into A Magnet For Chip Fabs

By Lauren Fedor
Financial Times

In Licking County, Ohio, massive red cranes dot the landscape and orange traffic signs warn motorists that trucks are entering the highway.

It is here, about 25km north-east of the state capital, Columbus, that Intel, the semiconductor giant, is building two new chip factories. The $20bn investment has been touted by local government officials as the single biggest economic development project in the history of Ohio.

The mega-site, spanning some 1,000 acres of predominantly former farmland, could accommodate eight chip factories, or fabs, with a total investment of as much as $100bn over the next decade. That would make it one of the largest semiconductor manufacturing facilities in the world.

But, for now, the initial phase of the construction project, which is slated to be completed at the end of 2025, has become emblematic of the economic development that has supercharged growth in this corner of the country. Once considered part of America’s rustbelt, it is now known among enthusiastic investors as “Silicon Heartland”.

It is also a hallmark of the White House’s industrial strategy to incentivise high-tech manufacturing in the US, and a clear example of both the opportunities and challenges posed by such large-scale investments. Read More

Can the US Lead on Clean Aluminum?


Can the US lead on clean aluminum? Ford, GM and others hope so
A group of 14 major aluminum buyers wants the U.S. to invest in low-carbon production of the metal, which is vital for EVs, solar panels and many other products.

By Alison F. Takemura

Canary Media
5 October 2023

Ford, General Motors, Rivian and SunPower are among a group of companies calling on the Biden administration to make the U.S. a powerhouse producer of clean aluminum, a metal crucial to the energy transition.

A total of 14 aluminum buyers, from electric-vehicle manufacturers to solar-panel producers (and even some alcoholic-beverage makers), issued a first-of-a-kind letter to U.S. Department of Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm last week, urging her agency to use funds from the Inflation Reduction Act to spur a domestic supply of low- to zero-carbon aluminum.  Read more

Reshoring and Automation: Where Do Cobots Fit in?

A look at how smaller manufacturers are using the technology to grow their businesses.
Industry Week
For North American businesses of all types, especially those in the manufacturing sector, 2022 was anything but typical. Or boring. Or easy. “Labor shortages” and “supply chain issues” became go-to phrases that encapsulated the most significant challenges for industry, continuing well into 2023.

The good news? Supply chain issues are improving monthly, and inflation has dropped by more than 50% from its peak. Additionally, reshoring initiatives are gaining ground around North America as businesses and policy makers at the state and federal levels recognize the importance of having a strong domestic manufacturing sector.

In fact, 62% of manufacturers surveyed in a Deloitte poll in November 2022 had already started reshoring or nearshoring their production capacities.  Read more

Cities Urged To Step Up Climate Workforce Planning

By Sarah Wray

Cities Today

As cities create and implement climate action plans, new research highlights the need for more focus on green workforce planning.

The Brookings Institution think tank assessed the climate action plans of 50 large US cities.

The research finds that many cities are “not in a position to harness new funding” such as from the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act and Inflation Reduction Act, and that they have “more workforce planning to do”. The report comes amid an existing shortage of infrastructure workers in some areas.

Most of the cities analysed – 47 of 50 – mention green jobs in their climate action plans, but they only tend to do so “in passing”. The report says that while some cities do not refer to green jobs at all in their plans, most only include a more general call for equity and greater opportunities.

Forty of the cities emphasise energy projects when discussing workforce needs, but considerably fewer cities call out requirements in terms of buildings, transportation, or other parts of the built environment. About half of the cities (24) emphasise workforce needs around building upgrades and retrofits, and 20 highlight these needs around transportation improvements. Read More