Chipmaker Micron to build $20 billion N.Y. factory amid semiconductor boom

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Chipmaker Micron to build $20 billion N.Y. factory amid semiconductor boom

Tech giant Micron said it will invest $20 billion in a new chip factory in Upstate New York and up to $100 billion over 20 years if it chooses to expand — another sign of a domestic semiconductor manufacturing boom.

Micron said it will build the plant in Clay, N.Y., north of Syracuse, with the first phase of construction lasting until the end of the decade. The site will initially employ 3,000 people and could eventually include four factories and 9,000 employees if Micron decides to proceed with construction.

Biden’s visit shows the high stakes at the $20 billion Ohio chip factory

The news is the latest in a series of U.S. chip-making investments announced in recent months as manufacturers take advantage of $52 billion in federal subsidies and additional tax credits passed in the recent Chip and Science Act.

“To those who doubted that America could dominate the industries of the future, I say this – you should never bet against the American people,” President Biden said in a statement Tuesday.

Micron announced another major factory project just weeks ago — in Boise, Idaho, near its headquarters. Intel, the chip giant based in Santa Clara, California, broke ground last month on a $20 billion project to build two factories near Columbus, Ohio. The company is also investing in a $20 billion expansion in Arizona.

Taiwan’s TSMC, the world’s largest chip maker, is building a $12 billion factory in Phoenix that it plans to complete by the end of next year. SkyWater Technology is building a chip factory and research facility next to Purdue University in West Lafayette, Ind., and Samsung and Texas Instruments have announced major chip construction projects in Texas.

Most companies said the federal subsidy program prompted them to invest.

Semiconductors have been in short supply for two years amid surging global demand and a lack of investors willing to build the multibillion-dollar factories needed to make the components. The lack of supply has hampered automakers and other manufacturers that use the chips, forcing them to cut production.

Asian governments have poured heavy subsidies into the sector for decades, giving Taiwan and South Korea a particularly large share of global chip production. U.S. component manufacturing has fallen sharply over the years, leaving the United States heavily dependent on Asia and especially Taiwan for chips, a reliance that worries U.S. officials as tensions rise between the self-governing island and China.

A new home building boom could begin to reverse this trend. But the projects also face hurdles, including finding enough engineers and skilled technicians to staff them.

Georgetown University’s Center for Security and Emerging Technologies estimates that more than 30,000 high-tech workers could be needed if all the planned manufacturing projects are implemented.

The Chip and Science Act includes funding to train workers to operate the devices, and many semiconductor manufacturers, universities and community colleges are trying to expand training programs.

Manish Bhatia, vice president of global operations at Micron, said the company is drawn to the Syracuse area in part because of its large population of former military members with strong technical skills.

“Here in Syracuse, we’ve had an incredible amount of veterans leave the military,” he said in an interview. “This veteran talent is a really great foundation for us.

April Arnzen, senior vice president of recruiting, said Micron will work with New York state universities and community colleges to incorporate semiconductor courses and hands-on training into their curricula.

The Micron project will benefit the Upstate New York economy, with the company projecting that the full build-out of the site will support 50,000 jobs in the region, including construction and supply jobs.

New York is giving Micron $5.5 billion in tax credits over the life of the project if the company meets certain employment goals.

Senate Majority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.), who led passage of the chip bill with Sen. Todd C. Young (R-Ind.), called Micron’s project the largest private investment in state history.

In an interview, Schumer said Micron chose the site in part because it is near a hydroelectric plant near Niagara Falls that generates cheap electricity.

“If there’s one word to describe today, it’s transformational,” Schumer said. “This is our Erie Canal moment. Just as the Erie Canal fueled explosive job growth and prosperity in the 19th century, these investments will fuel explosive job growth and prosperity in the 21st century.”

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