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'Innovation Hubs' Could Boost Distressed Areas, Once Congress Gives Them Their $10B


Potential hubs for scientific and technological industries across the country have $10B in federal money earmarked to help them grow, but their future hangs in the balance as they have yet to be fully funded by Congress. 

Before the 20 locations of the hubs can even be selected, The New York Times reported, the money has to actually be assigned. It’s one of a few critical elements of the $280B CHIPS and Science Act signed into law in August that has been “funded” without officially having any money allocated to them, according to the Times. 

The zones are envisioned as a way to boost economically struggling metros with the potential to become hubs for science and tech-based jobs that could help the country reduce its reliance on China and other foreign countries for these materials, the New York Times reported.

The idea is that the investment from the government can help turn scientific research generated by universities and other existing research hubs into new products, boosting the local economy in the process.

The Commerce Department has yet to select the zones and won’t until the zones receive funding. But among the possible locations that have been looked at include Akron and Toledo, Ohio; Tucson, Arizona; and Indianapolis. The Times says the list of contenders is heavy on the “Mountain West,” Ohio and the Carolinas. The law requires "a critical mass" of these zones in be established in several regions across the country. 

“The stakes here are really high,” Economic Innovation Group Director of Research Kenan Fikri told the Times. “They’re high in the competition between the United States and China, and they’re high for the future of place-based policies.”