Intel CEO Swan pens open letter to Biden urging domestic semi support

Intel CEO Bob Swan urged President-elect Biden in an open letter to support domestic production of semiconductors and to support immigration policies that supply talent for the tech trade. (Intel/Cayce Clifford)

Intel CEO Bob Swan wrote an open letter to President-elect Biden that urges U.S. government investment in the domestic semiconductor industry and support of immigration programs to find needed talent for the tech industry.

The letter, posted online Monday,also covers a broad swath of issues, including a call for making racial equity a top priority. Over the next decade, Intel aims to “double the number of women and underrepresented minorities in senior leadership at Intel,” Swan noted.

Intel, the world’s largest semiconductor manufacturer, hired more than 4,000 people in 2020, with 800 positions still left to fill.  Intel needs “access to the best talent available,” Swan said, noting that Intel is developing a STEM curricula and is working with a community college to launch the first Intel-designed artificial intelligence associate degree in the U.S.

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Swan did not describe any particular advice for immigration initiatives in light of recent changes under President Trump to curtail H-1B visas. However, he added, “the U.S. has welcomed global talent for decades and should continue to support immigration programs needed by Intel and other high-tech companies to operate in the U.S.”

On increasing U.S. manufacturing, Swan noted that Biden’s planned investments in American-made goods are “critical to U.S. innovation and technology leadership.” Quoting the Semiconductor Industry Association, Swan noted that the U.S. accounts for only 12% of the world’s semiconductor production capacity, while more than 80% takes place in Asia.

“A national manufacturing strategy, including investment by the U.S. government in the domestic semiconductor industry, is critical to ensure American companies compete on a level playing field and lead the next generation of innovative technology,” Swan said in the letter.

Swan also did not describe a favored investment approach, but many policy experts are urging Congress to support tax credits for construction of domestic semiconductor manufacturing facilities and equipment. In his “Made in all of America” plan, Biden calls for $300 billion in new funding over four yeas for R&D and breakthrough tech such as AI and quantum computing. Policy experts think Biden is likely to support the CHIPS Act in Congress as well.

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