• Eric Starkloff, President and CEO, NI

Over the last two decades, Austin cemented its place as one of America’s most vibrant tech hubs, offering a bright future for both startups and established technology leaders, like NI, which has called Austin home for over 40 years. The attributes that have made Austin a hotspot for innovation, including quality of life, a business-friendly environment, and an energetic culture, have also drawn semiconductor companies to Central Texas where employees research, design, and manufacture the tiny computer chips used in everything from automobiles and smartphones to lifesaving medical equipment. In 2021, Texas exported $19.3 billion worth of semiconductors. Semiconductor companies employ more than 40,000 Texans, including nearly 14,000 people here in Central Texas, and contribute $15.3 billion to the state’s GDP.

Everything is bigger in Texas, including our commitment to growth and innovation. Semiconductors are the backbone of countless industries we rely on each day—healthcare, transportation and more. Recognizing the strategic importance of semiconductors, other countries have put in place massive government incentives to attract semiconductor production.

America once manufactured more than one-third of the world’s semiconductor chips, but the U.S. has been squeezed out by the competition over the past 30 years. Between 1990 and 2020, the global share of modern chip manufacturing done in the U.S. fell from 37% to 12%. During the same period, China’s market share grew from less than 1% to 15%. Today, 75% of the world’s chips are produced at production facilities, known as fabs, located in East Asia, an area where incentives for semiconductor research, design, and manufacturing abound.

Thankfully, U.S. lawmakers, led by Rep. Michael McCaul and Sen. John Cornyn, have championed legislation called the CHIPS Act that would level the global playing field and strengthen the semiconductor ecosystem in Texas and across America.

This week, the U.S. Senate is expected to vote on CHIPS Act legislation that would invest billions to strengthen semiconductor research, design, and manufacturing domestically, sparking hundreds of billions in additional private investment. These investments would clear the way for our nation—and Texas—to secure its position as a top player in this vital industry.

In addition, this legislation would spur job development throughout the broader U.S. economy. A report from the Semiconductor Industry Association and Oxford Economics estimates the funds would create an average of 185,000 temporary American jobs annually and add $24.6 billion each year to the U.S. economy as new semiconductor manufacturing facilities are constructed from 2021-2026. Such an investment also would add 280,000 permanent jobs to the U.S. economy beyond 2026, including 42,000 direct semiconductor industry jobs.

Chip companies are already doing their part to invest in the United States—just over the past year, more than a half-dozen fab construction projects have been announced—but now is the time for Congress to quickly enact legislation to ensure that the U.S. wins the ongoing global competition for investment, supporting American innovation and jobs for decades.

Related Categories: Public Policy