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Stabenow and Peters tout $54 billion to lure semiconductor plants to U.S. — including Michigan

Michigan officials say the state is in contention for microchip fabrication and supply plants as federal legislation to provide billions of dollars to the semiconductor industry takes a major step forward.

The Senate is expected to pass the CHIPS Act (Creating Helpful Incentives to Produce Semiconductors) on Tuesday before it goes to the House, which is expected to move on it quickly, Sen. Debbie Stabenow said Friday during a press conference alongside Sen. Gary Peters at Lear Corp.'s Southfield headquarters.

Stabenow and Peters have been pushing legislation that would provide $54 billion in subsidies to spur semiconductor industries to invest in the U.S. The bill was born from a crippling global microchip shortage that was caused by the pandemic and exposed the country's reliance on China and other countries for critical components.

The shortage has had an outsize impact on the automotive industry, which has been hit with sporadic parts shortages and production shutdowns over the past two years.

"Having access to the chips is what's going to keep everybody here going," Stabenow told Crain's during an interview after the event. "Having access to the chips is about the entire auto industry. It's about the entire manufacturing industry. It's about everything we do, which has slowed down or stopped in some areas."

The bill calls for $39 billion to build, expand or modernize domestic facilities or equipment for chip fabrication; $12.5 billion in research and development; $2.7 billion for strengthening supply chains and semiconductor workforce development; and a 25 percent tax credit for investments in chip manufacturing.

Stabenow said the bill would fund up to a dozen large microchip fabrication plants and that she expects " a significant amount of money to come to Michigan."

"I hope we will have one in Michigan…I've been involved in conversations," she said. "I know the governor's trying to woo facilities to Michigan, so obviously those are thousands of jobs."

Peters told Crain's that "a number of" microchip companies are in active conversations about investing in Michigan.

"The state is definitely focused on this, and I've had conversations with companies that are very interested in locating in Michigan, so those conversations are going on as we speak," Peters said. "Michigan is a contender for semiconductor manufacturing business, whether it's a fabrication facility or the supply chain that provides materials to those fabrication plants."

That could not come soon enough for automotive companies, especially suppliers, many of which are feeling sharper financial pains than their customers.

At the end of the event, Lear CEO Ray Scott thanked the senators for their work on the legislation and his employees for grinding through supply issues. The supplier manufacturers seats and wire harnesses, which require semiconductor chips.

"The majority of this room is going to go back to work chasing chips," Scott said.