U.S. President Joe Biden has announced a US$6.6 billion grant to Taiwan’s top chip manufacturer for semiconductor production in Arizona, which includes a third facility that will bring the tech giant’s investment in the U.S. state to US$65 billion. Voice of America’s White House correspondent Anita Powell reports.

A single semiconductor transistor is smaller than a grain of sand. But billions of them, packed neatly together on a chip, can connect the world, control weapons of war, and, someday, even drive your car. But U.S. production of this American-born technology has fallen off in recent decades.

Andy Wang
Northern Arizona University
As a nation, we used to produce 40% of microchips for the whole world. Now we produce less than 10%.

The Biden administration announced US$6.6 billion in funding for the world’s top chipmaker to build a third facility in the state of Arizona. Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company says it will put the U.S. on track to produce 20% of the world’s leading-edge semiconductors by the end of this decade. The funding comes from the bipartisan 2022 CHIPS and Science Act, which President Joe Biden highlighted that year in a visit to TSMC’s first Arizona facility.

Joe Biden
US president
American manufacturing is back, folks. American manufacturing is back.

Engineers say the legislation addresses a key weakness in American chip manufacturing.

Todd Achilles
University of California, Berkeley
We’ve just gotten in the cycle of the last 15 to 20 years, where innovation has slowed down. It’s all about financial results, investor payouts, and stock buybacks, and we’ve lost that innovation muscle. And the CHIPS Act, pulling that together with the CHIPS Act is the perfect opportunity to restore that.

But, they say, America urgently needs talent. The White House says this new investment could create 25,000 construction and manufacturing jobs. Are there enough workers to feed this need?

Zachary Holman
Arizona State University
Our engineering college is the largest in the country, with over 33,000 enrolled students, and still we’re hearing from companies across the semiconductor industry that they’re not able to get the talent they need in time.

TSMC in 2022 broke ground on a facility that makes some of the world’s most advanced chips. With each jump, chip production can get more and more complex and expensive. Can the country that made the mighty chip keep up? Biden’s betting on it.

For Levi Stallings in Flagstaff, Arizona, Anita Powell, VOA News, Washington.

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