New legislation cites co-ops as part of science and technology strategy

The recent microchip shortage has affected everything from consumer electronics and new car manufacturing to health care equipment and clean energy.

President Biden earlier this month signed into law a bipartisan bill that invests billions into science and technology innovations designed to grow the economy. Importantly, the law includes cooperatives as part of the targeted strategies.

“We appreciate that Congress and the Administration recognizes that cooperatives have a critical role to play in tomorrow’s economy,” said Doug O’Brien, president and CEO of NCBA CLUSA. “Workers, consumers and producers can use the cooperative business model to ensure that their communities can take part in emerging economic opportunities.”

The Creating Helpful Incentives to Produce Semiconductors (CHIPS) and Science Act funnels more than $52 billion into subsidies and tax credits to support research and development, with a focus on the microchip sector.

The legislation authorizes $200 billion over 10 years to boost U.S. scientific research, but requires Congress to pass separate appropriations legislation to fund that investment.

The CHIPS and Science Act cites cooperatives and employee-owned businesses numerous times as key partners in implementing its priorities.

Applications should include “a plan for partnering and collaborating with… worker cooperative membership associations, local and state employee ownership and cooperative development centers,” among other groups, the legislation says, “in order to promote employee, community and public ownership in the clean energy sector, and advance models of local economic development that build and retain wealth.”

The legislation lists “worker cooperative membership associations or state or local employee ownership or cooperative development centers” as eligible recipients of grants or cooperative agreements, along with nonprofits, trade associations, community development financial institutions (CDFIs) and numerous other entities.

Additionally, the legislation outlines how such entities should engage with the private sector—“including small- and medium-sized businesses and cooperatives, and employee-owned businesses and cooperatives”—to “commercialize new technologies and improve the resilience and sustainability of domestic supply chains in a key… technology or innovation sector.”

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