NEW HILL – Semiconductor firms considering locating facilities in North Carolina aren’t likely to make a final decision anytime soon, an industry source tells WRAL TechWire, even as reports indicate that one firm has crossed North Carolina off of its list.
“I think, eventually, and I can’t say the timeframe, a large semiconductor company will end up here,” said an executive in the semiconductor industry who requested anonymity. “Where else could they go?”
North Carolina is a great state for the semiconductor industry, and sites in North Carolina would make wonderful locations for firms of all sizes, the source told WRAL TechWire. “It’s a nice place to live,” the executive said. “We have a supply chain, we have talented people, and we have a willing utility company in Duke Energy.”
Chief among current factors that could influence a final decision: talented, skilled workers.
At least two community colleges have recently expanded their curriculum to train workers and prepare them for future careers in the semiconductor industry, Wake Tech and Fayetteville Tech, according to the executive.
“We have everything we need,” the executive said. “The good news is that the biopharma and biotech supply chain is very similar to the microtechnology supply chain.”
When it comes to semiconductor firms, a source told WRAL TechWire, “there’s a very long list of companies already here, and ones that may consider locating or expanding here.”
There’s a lot of interest in Chatham County, said Michael Smith, president of the Chatham Economic Development Corporation, in an interview with WRAL TechWire, adding that the county is “getting a number of looks from a lot of large operations.”
Those conversations have accelerated in the last 6-12 months, said Smith. “A lot of major operations are looking to shorten their supply chains,” he noted. That could mean firms are looking to invest, sometimes billions of dollars, in locations that fit that need.
Micron, for example, is expecting to invest $150 billion globally, and reports surfaced earlier this month that the company may be considering the Triangle Innovation Point, a 2,150 acre site in Chatham County, for a manufacturing facility.
For example, Wolfspeed is already located in North Carolina, as is Qorvo, Phononics, and Sense Photonics, as well as “a whole bunch of smaller semiconductor producers that feed into the Department of Defense,” a source said. In addition, many emerging quantum computing companies, which rely on semiconductors, have ties to North Carolina, with IBM and Honeywell making huge investments in quantum computing, as well as newer firms like IonQ and Atom Computing based in the state.
So even as one firm is reportedly crossing North Carolina off of its list of potential locations, others may still be considering the state, a source said.
Still, semiconductor firms, especially large ones, may be waiting to make final site decisions, the executive said, until Congress passes legislation currently known as the U.S. Innovation and Competition Act. That legislation includes $52 billion for semiconductor research, design, and manufacturing.
“They’re all going to be building,” said the executive. “As soon as that act is passed.”
Once passed, semiconductor firms will all be seeking locations that have access to three primary resources: an ample supply of water, access to heavy power, and local communities with or that could attract or train talented workers.
“Firms are growing at 30% per year,” said an industry source. “They’ll need to go to places that have people, water, and power, and chief among those is people.”