Biden visit shows high stakes of $20 billion chip factory in Ohio
The news is the latest in a series of U.S. investments in chip production announced in recent months as makers take advantage of $52 billion in federal subsidies and additional tax credits passed in the recent Chips 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.
Just a few weeks ago, Micron announced another large factory project in Boise, Idaho, near its headquarters. Intel, the Santa Clara, Calif.-based chip giant, launched a $20 billion project last month to build two factories near Columbus, Ohio. The company is also investing in a separate $20 billion expansion in Arizona.
Taiwan’s TSMC, the world’s largest chipmaker, is building a $12 billion factory in Phoenix that it aims to complete by the end of next year. SkyWater Technology is building a chip factory and research center next to Purdue University in West Lafayette, Indiana, and Samsung and Texas Instruments have announced major chip construction projects in Texas.
Most companies said the federal grant program convinced them to invest.
Semiconductors have been in short supply for the past two years, amid booming 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 chips, forcing them to cut production.
Asian governments have funneled large subsidies into the sector for decades, giving Taiwan and South Korea a particularly large share of global chip production. U.S. component manufacturing has declined sharply over the years, leaving the U.S. heavily dependent on Asia and especially Taiwan for its chips, a reliance that worries U.S. officials as tensions between the self-governing island and China are increasing.
The new domestic construction boom may begin to reverse this trend. But the projects also face some hurdles, including finding enough qualified engineers and technicians to staff them.
More than 30,000 high-tech workers could be needed if all planned manufacturing projects go ahead, the Center for Security and Emerging Technologies at Georgetown University estimated.
The Chips and Science Act includes funding to train workers in facilities management, and many semiconductor manufacturers, universities and community colleges are scrambling to ramp up training programs.
Manish Bhatia, vice president of global operations at Micron, said the company was drawn to the Syracuse area in part because of the large ex-military population with strong technical skills.
“There are an incredible number of veterans leaving the military here in Syracuse,” he said in an interview. “This veteran talent is really a great base for us.”
April Arnzen, senior vice president of recruiting, said Micron will work with New York State universities and community colleges to add semiconductor courses and hands-on training to their curricula.
The Micron project will be a boon to the economy of upstate New York, with the company predicting that full construction of the site will support a total of 50,000 jobs in the region, including construction jobs and suppliers.
New York gives 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 (DN.Y.), who led the passage of the chip bill with Sen. Todd C. Young (R-Ind.), called the bill a Micron’s largest private investment ever in state history.
In an interview, Schumer said Micron chose the site in part because it’s close to a hydroelectric plant near Niagara Falls that produces 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 growth in jobs and prosperity in the 19th century, these investments will fuel explosive growth in jobs and prosperity in the 21st century.