Sen. Cantwell visits Spokane, touts potential for tech growth

LIBERTY LAKE, Wash. — U.S. Senator Maria Cantwell visited Altek Monday morning, touting the potential for tech manufacturing in Eastern Washington.

“We are calling on Spokane,” said Sen. Cantwell. “We are calling on everybody to work together here to create the next innovations that make this nation competitive.”

Sen. Cantwell led the charge of the CHIPS and Science Act, which allocated over $250 billion towards the domestic manufacturing of semiconductors and research. The legislation also authorizes funding for 10 new collaborative manufacturing centers. 11 Washington entities have been selected to submit proposals.

“We think there should be one here on advanced manufacturing as it relates to aerospace,” noted Sen. Cantwell, referencing Altek’s extensive work in aerospace advancements. “We think that this will help grow the jobs here and keep our nation competitive in aerospace.”

Should Eastern Washington be successful in their bid, it would allocate millions in funding. It would pave the way for new jobs, innovation, and expansion, particularly at nearby universities.

“Increases in internships and even in apprenticeships can only mean a win for students and for the community,” said Karlene Hood, Dean of the Gonzaga University School of Engineering and Applied Science. “[This] can only yield economic growth, especially in areas that Gonzaga is interested in; artificial intelligence, machine learning, cybersecurity, robotics automation, advanced materials, and advanced manufacturing.”

The passage of the ‘CHIPS Act’ comes as U.S. manufacturing of semiconductors reaches an all-time low. In 1992, the U.S. produced 32 percent of the world’s semiconductors. In 2022, it was 12 percent.

“We want to take American research and implement it faster and help grow the economy in the United States,” said Sen. Cantwell. “[We want to] bring the supply chain back to the United States so that we drive down costs and grow more jobs here. That’s what this is all about. “