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SSTI Digest

Selective eligibility for corporate tax credits should produce broader public benefits

Not all publicly traded companies use savings from tax cuts the same way, NBER researchers James Cloyne, Ezgi Kurt, and Paolo Surico report in “Who gains from Corporate Tax Cuts?  While changes in marginal tax rates and investment tax credits (ITC) can have significant effects on the behavior of publicly traded C-corporations, manufacturers and goods producers are much more likely to recirculate the savings into additional capital expenditure and employment than firms in the service sector.  Publicly traded service sector companies typically use the proceeds from a tax cut to increase dividends to current investors in the firms.

Entrenched parties, resistance to change, stifling economic opportunities in ESG

By April of 2023, state legislatures had filed 99 anti-ESG bills, according to Reuters. Many of these bills are motivated by the perception that investors who prioritize environmental, social, and governance (ESG) compliance by companies in which they are investing are imposing their political beliefs on others. Furthermore, some believe that ESG considerations inhibit investors and thus hurt returns. On the other hand, some critics of these bills argue the opposite: that it is restricting ESG investing that jeopardizes investment returns. In fact, Research from Pitchbook found ESG investing can have as big a return as investing in non-ESG-driven investments.

Election 2023: Gubernatorial Campaigns, State Legislatures & Ballot Measure Initiatives

Three states are holding gubernatorial elections this fall, with voters in one of those states (Louisiana) having already chosen a new governor to replace a term-limited incumbent. In the remaining states, Kentucky and Mississippi, elections will be held next week (Nov. 7), with the incumbents facing tough opponents in their reelection bids. Six states (Colorado, Maine, New York, Louisiana, Ohio, and Texas) will vote on 36 statewide ballot measures this fall. Of those measures, 30 of the 36 measures are legislatively referred constitutional amendments or statutes, while the other six are citizen initiatives. Many of this year’s measures are focused on taxes and state funds. At the same time, state legislative elections will be held in Mississippi, New Jersey, and Virginia.

ARC Awards $16.4M+ to Grow Green Manufacturing in Northern and Central Appalachia and nearly $54 million for its POWER initiative

The Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC) recently awarded new grants totaling over $16.4 million to boost green energy manufacturing and workforce development through its Appalachian Regional Initiative for Stronger Economies (ARISE) funding opportunity.  ARC’s Partnerships for Opportunity and Workforce and Economic Revitalization (POWER) Initiative recently awarded nearly $54 million to projects that will leverage entrepreneurship, workforce development, and infrastructure to bolster re-employment opportunities, create jobs in existing or new industries, and attract new sources of investment in communities and regions that have been affected by job losses in coal mining, coal power plant operations, and coal-related supply chain industries due to the changing economics of America’s energy production.

Useful Stats: A look at the H-1B visa program by industry, employer and state

As the U.S. does not have a “skilled worker” visa like many other countries, the H-1B program is one of the only accessible ways for domestic employers to hire foreign, nonimmigrant labor in specialty occupations. The current statutory limit on new H-1B visas is 65,000 per fiscal year, with an additional 20,000 available for foreign individuals who have graduated with a master’s or doctoral degree from an institution of higher education within the U.S. This limit has led to a much higher demand than can be supplied, leaving some industries with less H-1B workers than they may have hoped.

The US lags behind other top countries in its proportion of manufacturing value added to GDP, World Bank data reveals

Manufacturing in the U.S. accounts for 90% of private-sector R&D, employs 80% of the nation’s engineers, and contributes trillions to the economy—according to Deloitte—with every dollar spent in manufacturing leading to an additional $1.81 added to the economy. However, despite its key importance, the U.S. lags behind much of the world in its proportion of manufacturing value added—the difference between the price of a product or service and any associated production costs—to the economy, seeing less value added each year as a percentage of GDP.

NIST issues final rules to prevent improper use of CHIPS Act funding

The CHIPS and Science Act (Act) established guardrails to prevent funding recipients from using the money to support the development of semiconductor manufacturing and technology in foreign countries of concern, including North Korea, China, Russia, and Iran. On September 25, 2023, the CHIPS Program Office CPO published the final rules for preventing improper use of CHIPS Act funding. The guardrails in the legislation include the Expansion Clawback and the Technology Clawback. The Expansion Clawback restricts recipients from using CHIPS funding for material expansion of manufacturing capacity in a foreign country of concern; the Technology Clawback limits recipients from engaging in joint research or technology licensing with a foreign entity of concern.

DHS issues proposed rule to modernize the H-1B visa program, includes startup founder provision

A proposed Department of Homeland Security (DHS) rule could herald significant changes to the H-1B specialty occupation worker program. These proposed changes would bring about a revised definition of “specialty occupation,” install what DHS says would be a more equitable selection process, allow entrepreneurs to sponsor themselves for an H-1B Visa, and open more non-lottery options for nonprofits.

NIH revises grant review process to try to reduce possible reputational bias

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) announced last week that it is adopting modified criteria in its grant review process beginning on January 25, 2024. The new system will continue to focus on the scientific merit of proposals (i.e., importance, rigor, and feasibility), while de-emphasizing criteria that may introduce bias into the review. New grant applications will be evaluated for whether the applicant demonstrates sufficient expertise and resources, but without considering the reputation of the institution or the investigator.

EDA designates 31 Tech Hubs, makes 29 Strategy Development Grants

The U.S. Department of Commerce’s Economic Development Administration (EDA) announced the designation of 31 Tech Hubs in regions across the country and 29 Strategy Development Grants. This announcement marks the first phase of the new Tech Hubs program, an economic development initiative authorized in the CHIPS and Science Act and designed to drive regional innovation and job creation by strengthening a region’s capacity to manufacture, commercialize, and deploy technology that will advance American competitiveness.

Seven regional Hydrogen Hubs selected, will receive $7B

The administration recently announced that seven regional clean hydrogen hubs have been selected to receive $7 billion in Bipartisan Infrastructure Law funding. The hubs are located in California, Delaware, Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Montana, New Jersey, North Dakota, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Dakota, Texas, Washington and West Virginia.

Investments in hydrogen startups may soar with the creation of Hydrogen Hubs

This week’s announcement of seven regional hydrogen hubs and $7 billion in federal money significantly increases spending in a technology that has seen modest private sector investment in hydrogen-related companies. Since 2013, investors—including angel, seed, and early- and later-stage VCs—have invested across $7,849.59 million across 366 deals with 340 companies related to the hydrogen industry sector, according to an SSTI analysis of Pitchbook data. Figure 1 below shows deal counts and capital invested by investment stage, 2000-2023 Q3.