- The Biden administration on Monday selected 31 U.S. regions as “tech hubs,” which it aims to transform into globally competitive innovation centers.
- The hubs, selected via a competition that launched in May, are in 32 states and Puerto Rico and both urban and rural regions. They will focus on a wide range of technologies, from AI-driven biotechnology and quantum computing to mass timber design and battery manufacturing.
- The hubs now have the opportunity to apply for between $40 million and $70 million each to implement their plans to “supercharge their respective technological industries,” according to a news release. In Phase 2 of the project, the U.S. Economic Development Administration will provide those implementation grants to five to 10 of the tech hubs.
The stated goals of the Tech Hubs program include creating good-paying jobs, strengthening U.S. supply chains and boosting national and economic security. It also aims to expand tech jobs beyond the major cities in which they are currently concentrated.
To apply for tech hub status, a region needed to have a consortia that includes industry, academia, state and local governments, economic development organizations, and labor and workforce partners. In the end, nearly 400 such groups applied for the program.
“I have to say, in my entire career in public service, I have never seen as much interest in any initiative than this one,” Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo told reporters during a Sunday conference call to preview the announcement, according to the Associated Press. “No matter where I go or who I meet with — CEOs, governors, senators, congresspeople, university presidents — everyone wants to tell me about their application and how excited they are.”
Eleven of the designated tech hubs received “strategy development grants” to support local coordination and planning activities; 18 consortia not named tech hubs received such grants to work on their plans and eventually receive tech hub designation, the Biden administration also announced Monday.
Officials from regions selected as tech hubs expressed excitement about what the designation could mean for their regions’ futures. “Buffalo, Rochester and Syracuse are officially on the road to becoming America’s semiconductor superhighway,” said Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., in a statement. He called the designation a once-in-a-generation opportunity for upstate New York.
Federal lawmakers from Vermont said in a statement that they look forward to the rural workforce benefits that will come from that state’s tech hub, which is also focused on semiconductors. “Today, in this time of historically rapid technological advancement, Vermonters deserve every opportunity to be a part of the best of those innovations,” said Sen. Bernie Sanders, an independent, and Democratic Sen. Peter Welch and Rep. Becca Balint, in a statement.