• President Biden and Commerce Secretary Raimondo announced  the designation of 31 technology hubs throughout the United States on October 23.  Assistant Secretary Castillo briefs media on the Regional Innovation and Technology Hubs (Tech Hubs Program and Administration efforts to catalyze investment in technologies critical to economic growth, national security, and job creation.  The Tech Hubs will help communities across the country become centers of innovation critical to American competitiveness.  The program was authorized by the CHIPS and Science Act – signed by President Biden in August 2022 – and is part of the President’s Bidenomics agenda to grow the economy from the middle out and bottom up.  


MODERATOR:  Hello and welcome to the New York Foreign Press Center’s briefing with Alejandra Castillo, Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Economic Development, and Eric Smith, Tech Hubs Program Director, also from the Department of Commerce’s Economic Development Administration.  My name is Daphne Stavropoulos and I’ll be the moderator. 

Before we get started, let’s go over a few logistics.  This briefing is on the record.  It’ll be transcribed, and the transcript will be posted on our website upon its completion.  Let’s begin.

The Assistant Secretary will brief you on the Regional Innovation and Technology Hubs program and administration efforts to catalyze investment in technologies critical to economic growth, national security, and job creation.  She’ll be the – then passing the floor to Mr. Smith for his comments.  And after their opening remarks, I will moderate the Q&A session.  And with that, it’s a pleasure to turn the floor over to Assistant Secretary Castillo.  Welcome and thank you.

ASSISTANT SECRETARY CASTILLO:  Well, thank you very much, Daphne, and it’s a pleasure to be here in New York City, my hometown.  I want to start by giving you a bit of perspective.  I am the Assistant Secretary for Economic Development at the U.S. Department of Commerce, and in – at Commerce we have 13 different agencies.  Why is that important?  Because at the end of the day, all of these different agencies are actually working towards one goal, and that is to support economic growth and U.S. businesses across the spectrum. 

But I want to just emphasize a couple of agencies within Commerce that I’m sure you all know.  The International Trade Administration is part of Commerce.  The U.S. Census Bureau is part of Commerce.  The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office is part of Commerce.  You’ve heard of the CHIPS and Science Act – I’m sorry, you’ve heard about CHIPS.  CHIPS is under the National Institute of Standards and Technology, which is part of Commerce.  Commerce is also NTIA, National Telecommunication and Information agency – Administration, I should say – which is currently deploying $48 billion for internet – the Internet for All, which is part of the Biden-Harris administration. 

I wanted to give you that perspective just to contextualize what is the U.S. Department of Commerce.  And let me also mention National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, which is also part of Commerce.   You probably know it by the acronym NOAA.  And then we have EDA, Economic Development Administration.  And while EDA is a domestically focused bureau, we are actually working to foster international investments, best practice sharing, as well as supply chain technology.  

What I am here to talk to you about today is the incredible investments that are being made by the Biden-Harris administration.  Four major pieces of legislation that I’m sure you’re all familiar with at this point – the American Rescue Plan, the bipartisan infrastructure law, the CHIPS and Science Act, and the Inflation Reduction Act – those four pieces of legislation in one way or another, in one shape or form, are truly driving economic growth and technology, and supporting technology across the board.  

EDA in particular has been at the forefront of most of this – of this investment.  We started out under the American Rescue Plan with the Build Back Better Regional Challenge, which was a $1 billion challenge across the – across the country to identify those places that have tremendous assets and are at the forefront of technology and innovation.  We also focused on the Good Jobs Challenge, which is directly looking at workforce development, which no matter where I go across not only this country but also abroad, workforce development is a key issue. 

While I mentioned at the beginning that EDA is primarily focused on the domestic agenda, we – I just returned not too long ago, around two months ago, from Germany, where I participated in the shaping regional transformation.  And this was an invitation by the German Government to talk again about how is the U.S. making these investments and what is that transformational change.  That was a very important visit.  I’ll also underscore that EDA participates with the American Competitiveness Exchange.  That’s a program that both Commerce and the State Department work to ensure that the Western Hemisphere is also a part of this dialogue. 

So in – as we continue to talk about not only what the U.S. is doing and why is this important, you may ask – this is important because we know that we need more equitable economic growth.  And when I speak about equitable economic growth, it is a promise that President Biden has made to make sure that places and people are not left behind, that as we move through this technological change that we’re engaging on all fronts with regard to not only stakeholders but, more importantly, with workforce across the country. 

I just want to take a few minutes and talk to you also about under the CHIPS and Science Act, there was a program – there is a program called Tech Hubs, and my colleague Eric Smith will go more in details about Tech Hubs.  But I do also want to talk about Recompete, which is a program that the Department of Commerce is currently reviewing and will soon announce.  And that’s $200 million focusing on places where the prime age employment gap – prime age defined ages between 25 and 54 – is at an all-time high.  So we are looking at those places across the U.S. where we too need to focus on making sure that there is equitable economic growth.  That announcement is soon to be – soon to be made.  

But I guess as I – before I pass on the microphone to my colleague, what I want to leave you with is the following:  These are the type of programs that the Biden-Harris administration is putting into place.  These are the programs where we are also inviting foreign direct investments.  As you may know, the Commerce Department hosts the SelectUSA, which is the convening on an annual basis where – in Washington, D.C., where we actually invite investors from across the globe to look at the United States as a place for solid investment but, more importantly, to look at places where technology and innovation are really taking off.

I want to give you two examples of places that I invite you to take a look at, and that is El Paso, Texas, where – which received the Build Back Better Regional Challenge award.  El Paso, Texas is looking at manufacturing.  Wichita, Kansas is looking at ways to continue to grow aerospace.  New Hampshire, which is also looking at biotechnology.  These are not your common areas.  These are not the common Silicon Valley places across the country.  But they are places in the U.S. that are really tied to – they’re at the forefront of innovation.  

So let me pause there and pass it on to Eric Smith, and I’m sure we’re going to have some Q&As.  This is a truly transformational moment.  I have spent most of my career in and out of government, and I will tell you that I’ve never seen a moment in time like the one that we’re living in.  This is important not just from a business and economic perspective, but it’s also important to make sure that as we look around the U.S., but also as we look around the globe, that when we talk about tech and innovation, when we talk about economic growth, that we’re doing with an eye towards both equity and inclusivity.  

So with that, let me pass it on to Eric Smith. 

MR SMITH:  Thank you, Assistant Secretary.  So with respect to the Tech Hubs program, the vision for this program is really for – to strengthen economic and national security by enabling the industries of the future to start, grow, and remain, as Alejandra mentioned, not just in the United States but in regions all throughout the United States, equitably and inclusively, focusing on growth in regions that have not always experienced economic and innovation-based economic growth.  

This is a $10 billion program, as envisioned by Congress, and we are right now in the middle of implementing the first 500 million, or 5 percent of that program.  And we’re doing that – we’re doing this as a two-phase program.  We just at the end of October announced the designees from the first phase, so 31 hubs from throughout the United States focused on a variety of different technology areas.  Those 31 hubs we announced in October and they’ll be competing for funding in phase two, which I’ll talk a little bit more about shortly.  

Those 31 hubs really run the gamut from central Missouri to New England to the West Coast, the Southeast, the Upper Midwest.  We really have a wide variety of geographies represented in that portfolio, and we also have a wide variety of technologies that really span kind of eight primary themes.  These run from enabling safe and effective autonomous systems to helping maintain our edge in quantum information technology; a couple of themes around biotechnology and advancing biotechnology; one around drugs and devices and the next generation of both of those; another around precision in prediction, so leveraging data, leveraging information to target and deliver better therapies and ultimately result in – pardon me – more positive health outcomes.

We’re also looking at accelerating our energy transition, whether that’s through renewables generation, through transmission, through storage, and then also looking at strengthening our critical mineral supply chain, also critical to energy transition.

We also have a few focused on semiconductor manufacturing and looking at some of the particular strengths in regions throughout the U.S., and a last theme around the future of materials manufacturing, thinking about everything from how do we make polymers more sustainable to how we can use wood in new ways. 

So how are actually going to support these hubs?  These 31 hubs, again, are right now competing for funding through the second phase of this program.  They’ll be competing for somewhere around $40 to $70 million each.  And of those 31 hubs, we’ll be able to fund five to ten of those.  

Those five to ten hubs will use that funding ultimately in roughly four ways.  So they’ll look at ways to support workforce development in their region.  How can they make sure that they have the talent and the workforce not only to leverage their strengths in these industries now, but also going forward into the future?  They’ll also look at business and entrepreneur development.  How can they support businesses that are growing, how can they support innovators and folks who would be entrepreneurs in these particular technology areas? 

They’ll also look at technology maturation and advancement.  So how can entrepreneurs and companies demonstrate these technologies, how can regions actually deploy these technologies out into the field, and then infrastructure related to all that. 

So we are working towards, again, getting these applications in from these 31 hubs.  Their applications are due in February, so they are actively looking for partnerships and commitments in order to strengthen their applications.  And we’ll be making decisions about this program in the summer of 2024.

So as we pursue strengthened economic and national security through these hubs, as they develop their applications, we’re looking for them to come up with these policy and investment commitments.  So what else can they bring to the table, what else can their partners bring to the table?  And we’re also looking for them to come forward with the types of projects in workforce development, business development, technology maturation, and infrastructure that can support their strategies. 

So with that, let me open it up I think for Q&A. 

MODERATOR:  Thank you so much.  To ask a question, just raise your hand and wait for me to call on you.  Those participating online, please raise your virtual hand, and just one minute.  The first question will go to Arnaud. 

QUESTION:  Hello.  Arnaud Leparmentier, French daily Le Monde.  Thank you for being here.  I have a question.  You said you have only spent 5 percent of your program.  I see many companies are a little bit worried that all the IRA, the CHIPS Act, they have a question will it last after the election.  So can you tell me how much have you already spent of the $270 billion of the IRA and the $52 billion of CHIPS Act?  And what make it irreversible even if the Republicans might come back to power?  And third question, how do you tackle the renewable energy bubble in the – on the stock market?  They are all down, and is this an issue for you, for your program? 

ASSISTANT SECRETARY CASTILLO:  Well, thank you for that question.  Let me tackle the first one.  The dollars have been, in many ways, through the many legislations that I mentioned – currently not only are we working on the design of the program but also on the deployment of these dollars, whether it’s the $48 billion that I mentioned at the beginning on the broadband or whether it’s on the CHIPS and Science Act with regards to chips but also with regard to Tech Hubs.  

I just want to clarify a bit.  Some of these dollars have been authorized at a particular level, but Congress has to continue to appropriate them.  In the case of Tech Hubs, it’s a $10 billion program that was authorized at that level, but we only received as of this moment $500 million, so 5 percent was appropriated by Commerce – by Congress.  We’re trying to – we’re continuing to work very, very diligently to make sure that not only are these programs out the door but that they’re actually reaching the communities that they were set.  

So the work continues.  Making sure that they’re also institutionalized is important for the long run.  The goal here is not a political gain but to actually touch the lives of Americans and transform our economy.  So the work that we’re doing today, day in and day out, is about making sure that we’re deploying these dollars with the greatest speed, but also making sure that they’re reaching the intended goal, which is to transform our economy more and towards the future.  

QUESTION:  Excuse me.  It means that – I am going?


QUESTION:  It means that all the expenses have be reapproved or voted a second time by the Congress?  Every year you have to vote again? 

ASSISTANT SECRETARY CASTILLO:  No, it means that some programs have already been fully authorized and appropriated, but other programs have not been fully appropriated.  In the case of Tech Hubs, which is what we want to talk about today, it was appropriated at 10 – it was authorized at 10 billion.  But this particular program, Congress has to continue to put it into the budget.  So for this particular program, only five percent of the authorized level has been actually appropriated.  

MODERATOR:  Let’s go to Samuel next.  

QUESTION:  Thank you.  Shilong Yang from Xinhua North America.  Not long ago, President Xi and President Biden have agreed to revisit the historic science and technology agreement between the two countries.  Do you have any update on the negotiations related?  And what do you see in importance of continued cooperation between the two countries in these areas?  Thank you.  

ASSISTANT SECRETARY CASTILLO:  So no particular update.  I will remind you we are a domestic-focused agency.  Nonetheless, we continue to support cooperation across our many partners.  So from that perspective, it’s – it really lies on the cooperation across the globe with regards to technology and innovation, but no specific update to your questions.  

MODERATOR:  The next question we’ll go to – online to Wang Fan.  Wang, can you enable both your audio and video and ask your question?  

QUESTION:  Hi, I’m Fan Wang with China New Service.  So you have mentioned that the programs will be focused on —   

MODERATOR:  Mr. Fan, can you enable your audio, please?  We can’t hear you. 

QUESTION:  Can you hear me now?  Can you hear me?  

MODERATOR:  I think – yes, we can.  Go ahead, sir.  

QUESTION:  Okay.  I’m Fan Wang with China News Service, and you have just mentioned that the programs will be focusing on equity and inclusivity.  So my question is:  Is there a mechanism in the program that will address the issue of inclusivity, especially regarding the underrepresented groups – for example, the Asian community?  Thank you.  

ASSISTANT SECRETARY CASTILLO:  Yeah, thank you for that great question.  I actually made a note as part of my closing remarks – I want to underscore the fact that the way EDA and most of our colleagues in the federal government, we have made requirements in our notice of funding opportunities.  And if you look at our notice of funding opportunities, also called NOFOs, you will see that they are requirements with regards to both equity, inclusion.  In the case of Tech Hubs – and I’m sure Eric will talk more about it – we’re looking at different consortiums.  And in the case of the Build Back Better, we actually had partnerships.  

And these were partnerships that included universities, community colleges, workforce boards, nonprofit organizations, philanthropy, because our goal is to make sure that we are not only including people at the table but making sure that we look around and see who is missing – in the case of the Asian-American community, obviously a very important population here in the United States, but also African-Americans, Latinos, Native Americans – and bringing them along as participants but also as key stakeholders of these different grants.  So in places where there’s a large population representing a variety of underrepresented or ethnic population, they are very much involved.  

QUESTION:  Thank you. 

MODERATOR:  Perfect.  And Eric, did you want to talk about the consortium?  

MR SMITH:  Sure.  Yeah, so to build on that a little bit, so first of all, in order to apply for, in order to be a designated Tech Hub, you do have to be a consortium.  You have to bring a number of different organizations together.  As Alejandra mentioned, that includes institutes of higher ed, workforce and labor organizations, state and local governments, et cetera.  There are a number of different organizations eligible.  

I think another thing about the program that’s really key to highlight here is that equity and inclusion is an evaluation criteria.  So as we are looking at the applications that consortia submit, that these 31 hubs submit, we will be explicitly evaluating how those hubs are increasing inclusivity, are increasing equity in these regions.  We mean that both in how the benefits of the hub’s growth will accrue to those populations, so how is economic growth happening, not just concentrated a few individuals or institutions but broadly throughout the region.

We’ll also be looking at how the leadership of the hub is equitable and inclusive and diverse.  And so all of the hubs have to tell us who their regional innovation officer is, so who is the accountable person for driving the strategy forward.  They will come with proposals on how to fund that work, and they’ll be bringing together, in most cases, boards or committees that help guide and steer the hub.  And we’ll be looking at how those structures are put in place so that those teams are diverse and so that they are a forum for all of those voices to join in the guidance and direction of the hub.  

QUESTION:  Thank you.  

MODERATOR:  Thank you.  The next question will go to Mr. Muhammad.  If you wait for the microphone, please. 

QUESTION:  Thank you.  My – one question is about the investment.  Is there any limit, minimum or maximum?  And the subsequent question: that this incentives are given to the foreign investors are domestic as well?  And what kind of incentives in case of the foreign investors?

MR SMITH:  Sure.

MODERATOR:  What outlet are you with?  Which outlet are you with today?  Which outlet are you reporting for?

QUESTION:  Online News Agency.

MODERATOR:  Thank you very much.

QUESTION:  It is Pakistan’s largest news agency.

MODERATOR:  Thank you very much, sir.

MR SMITH:  Thank you for that question.  So the incentives can actually – the grant funding can actually go to any of the consortium members.  So whether that’s an institute of higher ed, whether that’s a workforce organization, whether it’s the municipal government, it can be private companies as well, the EDA funding can go to that whole universe of consortium members.  What we’ve told consortium members, the guidance we’ve given them, the way that we’ll look at these programs is:  Is the organization receiving the funding for a particular project really the organization that we would hold accountable for delivering on that?

So it’s likely natural that workforce organizations would end up with most workforce development projects, of course supported by some of the other institutions and organizations in the consortium.  If there’s a technology demonstration project, perhaps it could be led by an institute of higher ed or research organization in partnership with a number of private companies in the region.  It really depends on the nature of the project.

When it comes to foreign companies, we are encouraging foreign direct investment.  We want hubs to really bring in commitments from all of the organizations that are working in their regions in this particular technology area.  Of course, we do have the national security aspect of this as well, and so we’ll be looking at that, but really want to make sure that these hubs are enabled to bring in the resources and commitments from organizations that they work with in this technology area.

Ultimately, in addition to that national security element though, we’re looking for the economic benefit to really build up in this region.  So we expect that most of the funding will be spent in the region, and most of the benefit will end up in this particular hub.  We really are focused on the place-based nature of these investments and want to build up these regions and our economies.

QUESTION:  (Off-mike.)

MODERATOR:  Sir, wait for the microphone.

QUESTION:  Sorry.  Is there any minimum or maximum limit for the investment?

MR SMITH:  I’m sorry, thank you.  So there is not.  We expect the aggregate amount that EDA will invest in the communities to be somewhere between $40 and $70 million.  It’s not a hard minimum; it’s not a hard maximum; that’s the range we expect given the $500 million we have.  And then again, we hope that the regions are bringing many other investment commitments to the table from their partners and in private sector or philanthropy, state government, et cetera.

MODERATOR:  Thank you.  The next question we’ll go to Ms. Park online.  Ms. Park, can you share your full name, outlet, and country, and enable your video?  Thank you.  Go ahead.

QUESTION:  Yeah.  I am Sin Young Park from the Korea Economic Daily.  And TSMC has delayed a semiconductor production timeline to 2025, one year later than initially planned.  Is there a possibility of other delays?  And what is the precise reason for TSMC’s delay?  And has there been any concern raised regarding the U.S. semiconductor subsidies?

ASSISTANT SECRETARY CASTILLO:  So I understand that you were briefed by the CHIPS team in a prior briefing.  Would very much connect you – I know that our colleagues here at the UN would connect you with the CHIPS team to give a much accurate and fuller response.  

MODERATOR:  Okay.  Manik, did you have your – your hand up?


MODERATOR:  Go ahead.

QUESTION:  I’m Manik Mehta – sorry.  Manik Mehta, I am syndicated.  We just had the AI Summit in New York a day ago, two days ago, and there were some big Indian companies interested in investing in the U.S.  Now, they are looking at investing in the infrastructure projects, which would focus mainly on airports and ports.  How open are you to that idea?  And are there any special incentives you offer, especially under the Infrastructure, Investment, and Jobs Act?

ASSISTANT SECRETARY CASTILLO:  So again, happy to connect you with some of our colleagues that are in the bipartisan infrastructure law group.  As it relates to Tech Hubs, which is the Commerce Department program, we’re looking at different technologies in AI.  So that’s among the 31 Tech Hubs that were designated, there are several Tech Hubs that are under the artificial intelligence.  But happy to connect you both on the infrastructure group.

QUESTION:  Can I ask a follow-up question?  


QUESTION:  Can you identify some of the projects that are open for investments in the infrastructure field?


MR SMITH:  So I think the – we don’t get – have specific projects because the hubs themselves are right now in that project development phase.  One thing I would encourage, though, is we’ve published a lot of information about the hubs on our website, including contact information for the person who’s responsible for driving the hub strategy.  If there are organizations that are interested in participating, I strongly suggest that they take a look at our whole list of hubs – the regions they’re located, the technology areas they’re focused on – and reach out to those individuals who are leading that hub strategy.  

QUESTION:  But do you have priority (inaudible) —

MR SMITH:  Ah.  So this is a fully competitive application process.  So right now they are all on equal footing putting their projects together, and once they’ve put those projects – once they’ve submitted those applications, we’ll be evaluating them competitively without bias.

QUESTION:  Thank you.  We have two questions from the Zoom.  The first question will go to Bukola.  Bukola, please enable your audio and video and introduce yourself and your outlet.  

QUESTION:  Hi, I’m Bukola Shonuga with Global Media, Nigeria.  So question:  I was wondering how was the opportunity for this – how was this opportunity announced?  And I remember someone mentioned – I think Mr. Smith mentioned it just a little while ago – that people can find the information on your website.  So in terms of equity and inclusion, so if people don’t really know a way or place or they don’t know how to go to your website, how would they get information so that you can actually achieve this equity and inclusion?

ASSISTANT SECRETARY CASTILLO:  So thank you for that question.  Part of what we do is extensive outreach.  We – not only do I travel extensively, my team travels extensively, connecting with many different types of organizations, both public, nonprofit organizations.  It is one of our primary investment priorities on the equity piece.  As Eric mentioned, it’s also baked into our notice of funding opportunities, but it’s also a selective – selection criteria that we manage.  This has been a hallmark of the Biden-Harris administration, the equity and inclusion piece of it.  

And it’s very simple.  If we do not grow in a equitable and inclusive manner, we’re really not revving up, as we would say, all the engines of our economy.  And we know that this is not only about economic growth; this is also about our democracy.  And the reason I say that is because if people feel that they’re being left behind, they are made to feel invisible, that does – that significantly erodes our democracy.  

So there are many ways that we reach out; happy to connect with you as well.  But please visit our website, and I do a lot of outreach in English, in Spanish, and I go to different communities, underserved communities, indigenous communities.  So our team is really on the road, making sure that everyone is listening to not only the invitation to participate, but more importantly keeping them accountable to this investment priority.

MODERATOR:  Thank you.  The next question will go to Alexander.  Alexander, please enable your audio and video and introduce yourself.

QUESTION:  Hi, can you hear me?

MODERATOR:  Yes, we can.

QUESTION:  I’m trying to enable the video; sorry.  Assistant Secretary, you talked about visiting Germany (inaudible) where the (inaudible) American opportunism (inaudible).  To which extent do you feel that these visits by you and your colleagues from Treasury have actually led to a more (inaudible) dialogue regarding these (inaudible)?  

MODERATOR:  Alexander – Alexander.  The audio is not good; it’s not clear.  We’ll go to the next question.  Could you type your question in the chat for me and I will ask it on your behalf?


MODERATOR:  I’m sorry about that.  Mr. Le from Vietnam Television, please, go ahead.  We’ll come back to Alexander.

QUESTION:  Hi, can you hear me? 


QUESTION:  Yeah, I have two questions, one for Assistant Secretary of Commerce and another for Tech Hubs program director.  The first one is for Assistant Secretary.  As we know, recently some senator introduced as a Clean Competition Act add to – like, add to the clean emission for the company, for the producers who want to export to the U.S.  Some people will say that it can be, like, as a commerce barrier for other countries to export to the U.S.  Can you share with us how potential it will be passed into the bill?  And the second one, do you think – what do you think about the idea? 

And another question for the Tech Hubs program, as we know recently, Vietnam and U.S. upgraded the relation to the highest level, and the leaders of two countries also agreed to cooperate more in chips producing industry.  So how is that procedure, and can you update for us about that?  Thank you.  

ASSISTANT SECRETARY CASTILLO:  Sure.  So I’m not going to comment on a specific piece of legislation that may have been introduced.  But I will say this – the clean energy and renewable energy is, again, one of the key areas for this administration.  Not only has EDA been a part of that, but as you know, you have heard also how the Department of Energy most recently announced the hydrogen hubs.  We work across the board to make sure that we’re finding those new technologies.  And again, these are areas where we’re looking at different types of partners, both domestically and abroad.  The transition to clean and renewable energy is paramount.

I would like to use this moment also to underscore why this is.  It’s not just on the economic front, but also with regards to climate change.  One of the areas that EDA works very closely in is in disaster recovery.  And as we think about both the transition writ large, we’re also looking at how – what are the types of technologies that we can bring to market that will also help us address climate change.  

So a very broad scope of projects, programs, policies that are being undertaken, both under the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, but also under the CHIPS and Science Act to make sure that we continue to grow clean energy and other options across the board. 

QUESTION:  Thank you. 


MR SMITH:  Sure.  With respect to partnerships amongst other countries, the Tech Hubs are really – we are really looking for and focused on these place-based regional investments.  But these regions are all operating in the context of the global economy, especially as they’re focused on innovation-centric industries.  And to that end, we expect them to be working with companies from kind of across the globe and in industries – and that foster innovation and pursue innovation in these related industries.  So we would expect foreign direct investment; we would expect best practices sharing amongst regions, across countries, and just fostering that dialogue to enable that type of collaboration. 

MODERATOR:  Thank you so much.  Mr. Le, did we have a follow up? 

QUESTION:  Oh, yeah.  I have a question for – two follow ups.  The Tech Hub director, what do we think – what are you thinking about the potential of cooperation with Vietnam specifically in chip producing? 

MR SMITH:  So on chip producing in particular, we don’t comment on specific industries, particularly because we’re in the midst of the competitive part of the competition of this program.  And so we’re really not commenting on particular technologies or particular industries that are represented in the portfolio of hubs. 

That being said, I think those hubs are looking to build out their applications and they can be reached via the contacts on our website.  And I can imagine that there would be some interest in hearing from potential partners.  

QUESTION:  Thank you. 

MODERATOR:  Thank you.  Alex submitted his question via chat.  I’m going to ask it on his behalf.  This is Alex Wehnert from the German financial daily Boersen-Zeitung.  “Assistant Secretary, you spoke about your visit to Germany, where the IRA has been discussed controversially.  To which extent have the visits by you and your colleagues from the Treasury helped to increase the constructivity of the dialogue?  Which role does cooperation with German companies and direct investments by German companies in your long-term plans factor for the regional Tech Hubs?” 

ASSISTANT SECRETARY CASTILLO:  So Alexander, thank you for that question.  As I mentioned before, I was in Germany maybe two months ago.  I did travel with my colleague Heather Boushey from the Council on Economic Advisers.  This was, again, an invitation from the German Government, which we have worked with in the past, interestingly enough, through the American Competitiveness Exchange.  Germany has been a loyal partner in that effort.

So a couple of things that I would say is very robust discussions on those areas that impact our respective countries, among them not only technology and innovation, but most importantly workforce development.  So there was a very robust discussion.  How do we make sure that the workforce is actually being trained or upscaled, stackable credentials, very broad conversation, and as well a conversation on entrepreneurship, not just talking about workforce development as it relates to these various industries but also finding ways to support those new enterprises that will be journeying with us as we introduce new technologies across the board.  So very robust discussion.  Germany remains one of our important partners, and more to come.  

MODERATOR:  Thank you so much.  While you’re still at the podium, Assistant Secretary, I wonder if you could provide a snapshot of EDA’s accomplishment’s as we’re coming up at the – to the end of the year?

ASSISTANT SECRETARY CASTILLO:  Yeah, so 2023 was a very exciting year at EDA.  And I’ll start with a very important number, and that’s $8.5 billion in private investments.  That also accounted for over 27,000 jobs.  Across the board, EDA is being called now more than ever to not only talk about or discuss the areas of economic growth for the United States, but as my colleague Eric has mentioned, we’re talking about both economic growth as well as national security.  It’s an exciting time.  I’ve said it numerous times during this press conference.  It’s an exciting time for the U.S.  It’s an exciting time because not only are we investing in those industries of tomorrow, but we’re investing in places that have at times been overlooked or not necessarily focused on and yet underscoring the fact that there are assets, talents, opportunities in many of these communities.  

We talk about regional economic growth.  We’re not talking about city growth or state growth.  We’re talking about regional economic growth.  As many of you know, economic growth has no boundaries.  And along that line, it is important for us to emphasize that as the U.S. continues to make these very important investments, our collaboration with our colleagues across the globe is going to be also important.  Eric mentioned communities of practice and sharing and lessons learned.  I think this is going to be important for many, many countries who are also grappling with equity and inclusive growth as well as ensuring that we’re bringing along the technologies and innovations that are going to make our lives better.  So that’s exciting across the board.  

MODERATOR:  Thank you so much.  I don’t see any other hands raised.  So with that, I’ll invite you to make any closing remarks or comments you wish? 

MR SMITH:  Well, I just want to thank you all for your interest here today.  I think the Tech Hubs Program, as a new program at EDA with its focus on economic and national security, with its focus on specific technologies, with the place-based nature of the program, it’s a bit of a new paradigm for EDA and an evolution of how we do business and how we support economic growth throughout the United States.  We’re doing that kind of at the regional – at the local level through our regional offices; at the regional office through some of these national programs.  So I encourage you all to learn more.  Again, we’ve put out information on all 31 hubs as well as more information on the program.  You can find it at  Thank you very much.  

ASSISTANT SECRETARY CASTILLO:  So I just want to say thank you again.  Thank you again for the invitation on behalf of Secretary Raimondo and the Biden-Harris administration.  I just want to underscore a couple of things.  One is, this is a time of transformational growth.  This is a time for making sure that we have participation across the board from various stakeholders, as was mentioned before, academia, community colleges, nonprofit organizations, philanthropy, the private sector.  

For the U.S., the effort of equity and inclusion is paramount.  We know that to be true with regards to not just growth but also creating high-paying jobs and promoting entrepreneurship.  I also want to say that at the end of the day, EDA stands ready to continue its mission to support the ecosystems that drive economic growth.  And today’s discussion was just a sliver of what EDA does.  Tech Hub is a key program for us.  It is the program that is actually weaving between economic growth and national security.  We’re looking forward to continuing to partner with many of you but, more importantly, with so many countries around the world for whom this can also be very beneficial.  The quality of life that technology and innovation can bring is not just in terms of the opportunities in terms of medicine and quantum and these critical technologies, but it’s also about making sure that we provide good paying jobs and accountability across the board.  

So I’m excited.  Thank you very much for being here and thank you for the invitation.  

MODERATOR:  Thank you.  And that concludes today’s briefing.  The transcript will be posted on our website later today.  Thank you and good day. 

U.S. Department of State

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