LICKING COUNTY, OHIO — Supply chain issues, especially with computer chips, have been a top priority for lawmakers. A lack of these so-called semiconductors is impacting the price of everything from cars to refrigerators.
Congress appears to be on the verge of advancing major legislation meant to increase the production of computer chips in the United States. The House will take up the legislation after it clears the Senate.
IMPACT ON RURAL COMMUNITIES
When you are out in rural communities, the truth is Congress doesn't often come up. There is too much work on the family farm or off Main Street to worry about Washington. In Licking County, Ohio — as well as in its neighboring communities — everyone from farmers to the town sheriff has been watching developments in Washington.
That is because of the CHIPS Act.
"The CHIPS Act is going to have a huge impact. Not just on us, but the entire country," Rick Black, a county commissioner in Licking County said.
The area in and around Licking County has been selected by Intel to build a multi-billion dollar computer chip manufacturing facility. If the CHIPS Act becomes law, this $20 billion project could morph into a 100 billion dollar one since the legislation incentivizes companies to build more manufacturing sites.
In three years or so, 30 football fields worth of chip plants meant to help the supply chain could be operating on what is now farmland east of Columbus, Ohio.
"Did you ever think something like this would come here?" said, Joe St. George.
"No, never," Black said.
WAITING ON CONGRESS
There hasn't been a ton of optimism regarding the project lately. Groundbreaking was initially delayed because Congress delayed the bill's passage for months as lawmakers debated specific details.
"It seems like everything stalls," Black said, commenting on the time it has taken Congress to act.
While central Ohio is set to be transformed dramatically by this project, you don't have to live in Ohio to benefit from the CHIPS Act. Projects like this could be coming to your state too.
"It's truly a generational opportunity," Alexis Fitzsimmons is the Executive Director of GROW Licking County.
Fitzsimmons says the $200 billion CHIPS Act will benefit more than just her town.
In total, Congress is set to spend $39 billion specifically to build, expand or modernize domestic semiconductor facilities nationwide, projects that attract high-paying jobs.
"It's about $135,000 average wage, fully-loaded, with benefits," Fitzsimmons said.
There is some opposition to this, though. Some progressives in Congress are worried this bill gives too much money to profitable corporations. Lawmakers have inserted language to prevent certain stock purchases with these funds.
Meanwhile, some conservatives worry too much spending creates inflation. Opposition in Licking County, however, has less to do with that and more to do with what these facilities might to do their community long-term.
Many of these chip plants could come to rural America.
"The bulk of people out here are nervous it's going to hurt the integrity of the town, lose the small town feel," Jeremy Davis, a Licking County resident said.