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Gov. DeSantis invests $10M in microchips, semiconductors ‘so China can’t hold supply chain hostage’

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (Amy Beth Bennett/South Florida Sun Sentinel/TNS)
January 07, 2022

On Wednesday, Republican Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis announced the Florida Job Growth Grant Fund had invested nearly $10 million in grants to Osceola County and Valencia College to support semiconductor and other advanced technology manufacturing. DeSantis said the effort will help protect the supply of computer parts from being controlled by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP).

DeSantis held a press conference announcing the investment and later tweeted, “The Chinese Communist Party steals America’s technology and is a threat to the semiconductor supply chain. I am investing funds to increase microchip and semiconductor manufacturing in Florida so that the CCP cannot hold our supply chain hostage.”

The nearly $10 million investment includes $6 million to assist in developing infrastructure for Osceola County’s emerging NeoCity technology district. Another $3.7 million will go to Valencia College to train students on robotics technology for manufacturing semiconductors.

In a press statement, DeSantis said, “Expanding domestic manufacturing capability is important for Florida and our nation. The strategic investments we are making today will help bring microchip and semiconductor manufacturing back to our state at a time when the supply chains are more fragile than ever. Certainly, we cannot allow this important industry to become captive by the Chinese Communist Party.”

The Florida Job Growth Fund is a program intended to promote investments in projects that support the public infrastructure and workforce. The proposals are submitted to the fund and reviewed by the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity (DEO) and Enterprise Florida, Inc. (EFI) before the state’s governor chooses programs to invest in.

The effort to increase U.S. microchip and semiconductor manufacturing comes as China has seen an increased role in the semiconductor market and as concerns have grown in recent years about the reliability of Chinese computer parts. Concerns about Chinese computer parts range from the possibility that they may be ineffective counterfeits to working parts maliciously designed with spyware preinstalled.

“We have to start standing up as Floridians and Americans,” DeSantis said during the Wednesday press conference. “We cannot be captive. Key sectors of our economy should not be captive to some of these foreign nations, particularly outfits like the Communist Party of China. And even when you have allies like Taiwan, how that could impact if there was a disruption there, it could throw a lot of this through the loop even more than we’ve already seen for the past year and a half.”

“So the more we have this capacity within our own country but particularly within our own state here in Florida, the more opportunities there’s going to be for people and the more secure both our economic supply chains will be and our national security,” he added.

DeSantis has previously vowed to confront Florida’s reliance on China. On Dec. 20, DeSantis announced the state would “conduct a survey of all of the investments of the Florida Retirement System to determine how many assets the state has in Chinese companies.” In that announcement, DeSantis went on to say major companies “censor what the CCP tells them to censor and we see groveling apologies” when faced with Chinese disapproval.

“I would like the [Small Business Association] to survey the investments that are currently being done,” DeSantis said. “When the legislature comes back they can make statutory changes to say that the Communist Party of China is not a vehicle that we want to be entangled with. I think that that would be something that would be very, very prudent. I also think that our country as a whole but certainly Florida would like to see more production and manufacturing re-shored and we would be a great place to do that.”