President Joe Biden's visit Thursday to IBM in Poughkeepsie showcased his administration's strategy to invest heavily in high-tech research and development, which he sees as the foundation for 21st century manufacturing in the U.S.
Biden's stop in Dutchess County came as IBM aims to create a global hub for the development of quantum computing in Poughkeepsie and presses forward with research at the Albany Nanotech Complex on its 2-nanometer chip, which is projected to achieve higher performance and use significantly less energy than chips in use today.
Biden toured the laboratories in the sprawling IBM campus off Route 9, where the technology giant manufactures mainframe computers and is home to the company's Quantum Computation Center. The company employs about 7,500 in the Hudson Valley, and 11,000 statewide.
He gave his speech in Building 52, a warehouse festooned with an American flag behind the podium and "Made In America" placards attached to shelving where IBM products were stacked, ready to ship. He pledged to revive American manufacturing, based on the investments in technology in places like Poughkeepsie and Syracuse.
"Where is it written that we can't be the leading manufacturing country in the world?" asked Biden.
Brian Deese, director of the National Economic Council, who spoke to reporters on Biden's flight to New York, said the investment in technology research will pay off across the U.S. economy.
"What you're seeing is a historic effort to lay the foundation with public investment for a unprecedented level of private investment in areas of significant economic − where there is significant opportunity for increases in economic productivity, and also where we have an acute economic and national security need," said Deese. "And those things all come together here and at IBM."
Troubles with the supply chain, which erupted during the COVID-19 pandemic, continue to plague U.S. businesses, especially those that rely on semiconductor chips, most of which are manufactured overseas. Biden said the U.S. once manufactured 30% of the world's computer chips. Today it's close to 10%, he said.
"The supply chain is going to start here and end here in the United States," said Biden.
The visit to IBM was a way to highlight the bipartisan CHIPS and Science Act, the $280 billion legislative package signed by Biden in August that will support research and development in the semiconductor industry through grants, loans and tax credits. It will fund scientific research and bolster New York's semiconductor industry, which employs an estimated 34,000.
It also provides $13 billion for workforce training and an additional $11 billion for regional innovation hubs.
Biden's stop in Poughkeepsie came two days after semiconductor manufacturer Micron announced it would invest $100 billion over 20 years in a plant in Syracuse.
Among those in the audience was Joan Becker, of Lewisboro, who said she was written hundreds of postcards in support of Democratic candidates this campaign season.
"The Hudson Valley is an appropriate place for the president's message on technology," Becker said. "We need more good jobs here."
Biden said the good news about technology investments in New York were part of a national effort to attract corporations to the U.S. in his bid to reverse the decline in manufacturing here.
"They are choosing America," Biden said. "We are coming back and we are leading the way."
The announcement of IBM's pledge to invest $20 billion across the Hudson Valley over the next decades comes as IBM works to rebound from a 38% decline in revenues since 2018, with the IBM upturn starting in 2021. IBM research centers are located in Poughkeepsie, Yorktown Heights and Albany.
IBM Chairman and CEO Arvind Krishna, who recalled that President Dwight D. Eisenhower came to Poughkeepsie for the dedication of an IBM building in 1949, said the CHIPS and Science Act will support IBM's push to develop the next generation of computer chips, artificial intelligence platforms, and expand its exploration of how to use quantum computing in business and science.
"The future of computing is happening in the Hudson Valley," he said.
Politics in the air
With a month before the midterm elections, politics were in the air in the warehouse and on a street corner at the IBM entrance. There, a gaggle of protestors waved flags that used a common epithet to disparage President Biden.
The Hudson Valley is seen as one of the battlegrounds over control of the U.S. House in 2023, with three races − for the 17th, 18th and 19th Congressional districts - seen as competitive by the Cook Political Report.
Dutchess County Executive Marc Molinaro, R-Tivoli, who attended the Biden visit, is running in the 19th District, which stretches from the Hudson Valley west to Ithaca. He criticized Biden for infusing politics into a worthwhile government program to boost technological advancements.
"Election year giveaways to encourage high tech giants to do what they should, while perhaps necessary should not be politicized," said Molinaro. "Instead, President Biden must get serious about inflation, rising home heating and gas prices, and out of control crime devastating our families and communities."
Reps. Sean Patrick Maloney, D-Cold Spring, running the 17th, and Pat Ryan, D-Kingston , running the 18th, used the opportunity to reflect on how government helped their families in the past, and how it would help the region moving forward.
Maloney recalled how his father, who was injured on a U.S. battleship, recovered in a veteran's hospital, went to college on the GI bill and raised a family of eight on his job at U.S. Steel.
Good-paying jobs in the tech sector will help the next generation in New York, he said.
"It means jobs, jobs, jobs - whether you have a high school degree or a college education or Ph.d," he said "This is going to mean a bright economic future - hundreds of billions of dollars invested over the next few decades - from the Hudson Valley to Central New York so we can lead the world in advanced computing and manufacturing."
Ryan said his grandfather worked for 36 years at IBM, and noted he lost half of the kids in his elementary school classroom after a local manufacturing plant closed. He said that the CHIPS and Science Act will provide a pathway for a resurgence of American manufacturing to counter advances made in Asia.
"We need a national manufacturing strategy to keep us competitive against adversaries like China," he said. "We'll do it with governments working together at every level."
USA TODAY White House correspondent Maureen Groppe contributed to this report. Follow David McKay Wilson on Twitter @davidmckay415.
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Biden at IBM talks investments in tech research, development