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Need more technology — MaKenzie Jones | Letters To Editor

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I would like to point out some information from Mike Cassling. We live and work in a technology-based economy. Technology infuses every aspect of our lives with improvements and advances that increase production, facilitate diagnostic calibrations, maintain efficient operations, and generate opportunities for additional revenue.

In Nebraska, we know how the agriculture industry has benefited from technology through GPS, crop sensors, aerial imaging, drone operations and robotics. We should grow technology here. Centrally located in the middle of the country with available land, good quality of life and low cost of living, Nebraska is the ideal state for technology to flourish. As the founding chair of the Nebraska Tech Collaborative (NTC), I work with our organization to build a world-class tech ecosystem in Nebraska that draws in tech companies, attracts investments, and creates tech jobs. The NTC has a goal for Nebraska to increase the number of tech jobs by 10,000, and the number of new tech companies by 300, by 2025.

To do this, we need an ample, secure, and reliable supply of semiconductor chips, which are the key ingredient that powers the technology that runs our economy. U.S.-headquartered firms represented approximately 80% of all semiconductor wafer fabrication capacity in the U.S. in 2021. Similar to so many other industries though, our semiconductor manufacturing capability has declined over time, and we now rely heavily on foreign manufacturers. Much of the world’s manufacturing capacity is now in Asia, which has recently caused massive supply chain congestion and, as Taiwan is a major supplier, sparks concern about the threat China poses.

Nevertheless, semiconductor exports totaled $62 billion in 2021, ranking the fifth-highest among American exports. In fact, semiconductors constituted the largest share of U.S. exports of all electronic products. If the industry expands and grows, imagine how much those numbers would improve. Semiconductors are an American invention that formed an American industry. We need semiconductor chip manufacturing to thrive in America now and into the future.

To do this, our nation needs to invest in and incentivize the industry. Right now, Congress has legislation stuck in conference committee that would aid in building out more manufacturing capability. Negotiation is ongoing to produce a compromise bill that will pass both chambers of Congress. For our domestic semiconductor industry to grow even more competitive globally, the final version needs to include $52 billion in CHIPS Act grant resources and an investment tax credit that incentivizes the construction of new semiconductor facilities into the next decade.

The U.S. semiconductor industry accounts for a quarter of a million direct U.S. jobs and over a million additional indirect U.S. jobs. Every semiconductor manufactured in the U.S. supports almost six more jobs across our economy, like the 10,000 tech jobs we will create here in Nebraska with the help of these two vital measures in Congress.

This is an opportunity for America, and it is also an opportunity for Nebraska. We need semiconductor chips to reach our goal of creating a tech ecosystem in Nebraska. Congress needs to pass this legislation and empower the semiconductor industry to create jobs and opportunities for everyone. Nebraska’s federal delegation should lead the way.

Mike Cassling is the founding chairman of the Nebraska Tech Collaborative and CEO of Cassling, a customer-centric imaging and therapeutic technology, services and solutions company.

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