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America’s new industrial policy is taking shape in Ohio

HISTORY: The Made in America concept is in full force at this 77-year-old Ohio factory… people are hard at work making a new line of electric garbage trucks. Ninety miles to the west, construction has begun on a massive $20 billion facility. There, pizza-sized silicon wafers are processed into computer chips. Both factories – one owned by Battle Motors and the other by world giant Intel – are examples of a new industrial policy taking shape in America. Backed by the Biden administration, it uses the federal government’s power to help U.S. companies compete in a global economy — a goal that has rare bipartisan support — even here in staunchly Republican Ohio. Jon Husted is the state’s Republican lieutenant governor: “When we allowed the semiconductor industry and other important parts of our economic foundations to depend on our countries overseas, that was a mistake. In the Midwest, Northeast paid dearly for that mistake. But now is an opportunity for us to hit the reset button to see what is in our strategic, national, economic and national defense interests.” Reuters toured both sites and spoke with over a dozen outside experts and political leaders the challenges of new industrial policies, which include a potential labor shortage and a growing backlash from foreign governments rushing to boost competing companies. But Bruce Andrews, Intel’s chief government affairs officer, says the new approach is critical even on the pitch. “You know, thirty years ago, Taiwan and Korea, China all got together and said we want to build the semiconductor industry … And so they really focused on putting policies in place, whether that’s incentives that can help to.” cover up to, you know, even up to half the cost of the factory. They give, you know, free land, they give tax breaks, they give financial incentives.” Now the US government wants to give in too… in the form of tax credits and subsidies. This type of government support for US companies was once criticized by conservatives as “picking winners and losers” and by progressives as corporate welfare. Of course, there’s a big risk for companies that rely on government support: a future government could pull back projects that take years to build. But for Battle Motors CEO Mike Patterson, he sees building up his fleet of EV trucks now — with some government support — as a win-win. “The more of these electric vehicles we can get out of, the better for the environment. It’s really. I mean, that’s why, you know, that’s why we’re doing this. But it now makes financial sense to do it.”


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