America’s new industrial policy takes shape in Ohio

STORY: The concept of ‘Made in America’ is in full force at this 77-year-old factory in Ohio... People hard at work producing a new line of electric garbage trucks.

Ninety miles to the west, construction has begun on a massive $20 billion plant. There, pizza-sized silicon wafers will be transformed into computer chips.

Both factories - one, from Battle Motors and the other, from global giant Intel - are examples of a new, industrial policy taking shape in America.

Championed by the Biden administration, it uses the power of the federal government to help U.S. businesses compete in a global economy - a goal that is getting rare, bi-partisan support - even here, in staunchly Republican Ohio.

Jon Husted is the state’s Republican Lieutenant Governor:

“When we allowed the semiconductor industry and other vital parts of our economic foundations to be reliant on our countries overseas, that was a mistake. In the Midwest, Northeast paid dearly for that mistake. But now it's an opportunity for us to hit the reset button to realize what's in our strategic, national, economic, and national defense interests.”

Reuters toured both sites and spoke to over a dozen outside experts and political leaders about challenges with the new industrial policy, which includes potential worker shortages and a growing backlash from foreign governments rushing to boost competing companies.

But Bruce Andrews, the Chief government affairs officer at Intel, says the new approach is critical to even the playing field.

“Thirty years ago, you know, Taiwan and Korea, China all sat down and they said, we want to build the semiconductor industry... And so they really focused on putting policies in place, whether that was incentives which can help cover up to, you know, even up to half the cost of the fab. They give, you know, free land, they give tax breaks, they give cash incentives.”

Now the U.S. government wants to give too… in the form of tax credits and subsidies.

This kind of Government support for U.S. companies was once criticized by conservatives as "picking winners and losers" and by progressives as corporate welfare.

Of course, there is one big risk for companies relying on government support: a future administration might pull back on projects that take years to build.

But for Mike Patterson, CEO of Battle Motors, he sees building his fleet of EV trucks now - with some government support - as a win-win.

“The more and more of these electric vehicles that we can get out, the better it is for the environment. It really is. I mean, that's why, you know, that's that's that's why we're doing this. But it's now becoming financially sensible to do it.”