Biden visit to Intel semiconductor plant to test his appeal in deep-red Ohio

The trip is part of a White House pre-midterms push to tout new funding for manufacturing and infrastructure. PHOTO: EPA-EFE

WASHINGTON - President Joe Biden will make an election-year visit to an overwhelmingly Republican part of Ohio on Friday for the groundbreaking of a semiconductor plant that he will promote as evidence that his economic policies are working.

Biden will travel to Licking County, near Columbus, Ohio, to speak at the site of Intel's new US$20 billion (S$28 billion) semiconductor manufacturing facility.

The trip is part of a White House pre-midterms push to tout new funding for manufacturing and infrastructure Biden's Democratic Party pushed through Congress, while decrying opposition Republicans backed by former President Donald Trump as dangerous extremists.

Previous trips to Maryland, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin have landed the president in areas where Democrats already have strong support, but Licking County voted Republican 63 per cent to 35 per cent in the 2020 presidential election.

Ohio in play?

Democrats have lost Ohio in the past two presidential contests, but Republican Senator Rob Portman retirement may give Democrats a chance to pick up a Senate seat.

Representative Tim Ryan is running against Republican J.D. Vance, a venture capitalist and author of the book, 'Hillbilly Elegy', who has the backing of former Republican President Donald Trump.

Trump's political organisation announced on Monday that Trump will appear at a rally for Vance in Youngstown, Ohio, on Sept 17.

Intel backed the Ohio project in anticipation of the passage of the Chips and Science Act, a funding law that Biden signed last month after some Republicans join Democrats to support it, the White House says.

The Chips act is aimed at jumpstarting the domestic production of semiconductors in response to supply-chain disruptions that have slowed the production of automobiles.

A string of other companies have announced new semiconductor plants emanating from passage of the Chips act, which authorized about US$52 billion in government subsidies for US semiconductor production and research, and an investment tax credit for chip plants estimated to be worth US$24 billion.

During Biden's visit, Intel will announce it has distributed US$17.7 million to Ohio colleges and universities to develop semiconductor-focused education and workforce programmes, part of a US$50 million education and research investment in the state.

The Intel facility will contain at least two fabricating plants that the White House said will be built by union labor, creating more than 7,000 construction jobs and 3,000 full-time jobs producing cutting edge chips.


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