Commerce secretary visits Minnesota to talk about microchips, supply chain

Finding workers to expand microchip production in Minnesota

Finding workers to expand microchip production in Minnesota

Minnesota semiconductor companies are in the process of applying for funds to expand their businesses through the CHIPS Act President Joe Biden signed last summer.

U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar and U.S. Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo met with semiconductor company executives, business and education leaders and local government officials at Normandale Community College on Wednesday.

They talked about the need for Minnesota companies and others in the U.S. to increase microchip production. The U.S. currently produces 12% of the world’s supply of semiconductors, down from 37% in 1990. To boost that number the industry needs to attract many more workers.

“Now, as Amy said, we used to produce nearly 40%. We’re down to 12%,” Ramondo said during a roundtable discussion. “Well, with that atrophy, our talent pool has atrophied.”

Not all jobs in the high-tech semiconductor industry require advanced college degrees. Community colleges like Normandale can also produce skilled workers for many jobs in the industry.

“We’re constantly competing not only here locally but nationally for the best talent,” Skywater Technology President and CEO Tom Sonderman told 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS after the meeting. “And events like we just had today, the idea of us building a Minnesota semi-conductor coalition is getting people excited about coming to Minnesota to build a career here.”

Afterward, Raimondo and Klobuchar headed to St. Paul and meet up with Sen. Tina Smith and Congresswoman Angie Craig and talk about funding for broadband expansion in the state. That comes just two days after Raimondo’s agency announced billions in grants for broadband expansion, including nearly $652 million for Minnesota.