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'Innovation Hubs' Aim to Lift Distressed Areas. Congress Just Has to Fund Them

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The hubs are meant to help turn scientific research, from universities and other innovation centers, into new and marketable industrial applications.

President Biden visited the site of a new Intel semiconductor manufacturing facility in New Albany, OH, in September, after the passage of the CHIPS and Science Act.

Credit: Pete Marovich/The New York Times

Included in the bipartisan industrial policy legislation that President Biden signed into law this summer was a $10 billion effort to jump-start economically sputtering regions across the country: a series of "innovation hubs" across 20 metropolitan areas.

Supporters of targeted federal efforts to revitalize struggling areas are eager for the Commerce Department to start picking the sites for those hubs. Researchers from a Washington think tank, the Economic Innovation Group, are set to release a comprehensive report on Monday that draws on a wide array of economic data to calculate where the hubs could best achieve their dual goals. Those include helping areas in need of an economic jolt and accelerating technological advancements that lift the U.S. economy as it competes on a global stage, and the list of potential sites is heavy on cities in the Mountain West, the Carolinas and Ohio.

"The stakes here are really high," said Kenan Fikri, director of research at the Economic Innovation Group. "They're high in the competition between the United States and China, and they're high for the future of place-based policies."

But before the Commerce Department can start the process of deciding where to put the hubs, Congress must actually fund their creation. The need for Congress to greenlight actual money extends to many of the key provisions in the new law, the CHIPS and Science Act, which authorized lawmakers to fund a variety of new programs without actually laying out the money for them.

From The New York Times
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