For years, there’s been a lot of talk about securing a domestic supply chain for computer chips and other semiconductor technologies. But in the wake of the pandemic and the acute global chip shortage it triggered, that talk is turning into action. Chip manufacturers are announcing new plants and expansions worth hundreds of billions of dollars in states like Arizona, Texas and Ohio.

But the biggest story isn’t the dollar value of these semiconductor manufacturing investments – it’s the human value. And if you know where to look, you can see the human value of these investments starting to build already in a couple of critical ways.

First: Workforce development. These new and expanded facilities need workers, and those workers need the right education and training to be successful. For that reason, chip manufacturers are building talent-development pipelines in the communities where semiconductor jobs will be created. This work isn’t just about post-secondary education and training through university and community colleges. It’s about investing in K-12 schools, internships and apprenticeship programs to educate and train professionals for the semiconductor industry over the long haul, for decades to come.

Second: Small business impacts. Creating semiconductor manufacturing jobs in the American heartland isn’t just life-changing for the people who find new careers in the tech industry. The additional demand for goods and services of all kinds has the potential to reinvigorate brick-and-mortar, Main Street businesses as well. These are the same small businesses, many of them family owned and operated, which took a devastating hit from COVID-19 and are now grappling with labor shortages and inflation. If I had some advice for semiconductor executives and rank-and-file workers, it would be this: Lean into local sourcing. Make your local economic impact more than incidental. Make it purposeful. Send as much business as you can to local suppliers, construction firms, catering firms, restaurants and other Main Street enterprises.

The human impact of these major semiconductor investments isn’t easily quantifiable and often pays second fiddle to the sheer amount of capital that’s being deployed. But dig a little deeper behind the headlines and you’ll find stories of hope and inspiration, which we could all use more of these days.

Inside this issue

  • CHIPS Act Workforce Development in Austin
  • The University of Cincinnati to Help Supply Semiconductor Workforce
  • Intel in Ohio: The Local Business Boon That Could Follow
  • Micron Technology Considers Lockhart for Multibillion-Dollar Chip Factory
  • OAW Conference: How & Why Columbus is Emerging as a Midwest Tech Center

Austin Community College has developed new labs and classrooms designed to train the next generation of technicians needed for Texas semiconductor companies. The school’s program also offers dual-college credit classes for high school students interested in going into chip manufacturing. “We really have to work harder to make sure people understand the importance of semiconductors and the great careers that they can have,” said Jon Taylor, vice president of the Samsung Austin Semiconductor.

Industry stakeholders said it will be critical to start recruitment as early as high school since not enough students are educated about these types of career opportunities. The legislation also allocates $39 billion to build and modernize chipmaking plants in the country and $11 billion for semiconductor research. Read More

UC has partnered with 11 other universities in Ohio, Indiana and Michigan to form the Midwest Regional Network to Address National Needs in Semiconductor and Microelectronics. The universities will develop innovative solutions to best support the onshoring of the advanced semiconductor and microelectronics industry and address the industries’ research and workforce needs. “I think that’s going to be a beacon to companies that are looking for locations to further develop in this very rapidly growing space,” UC Chief Innovation Officer David J. Adams told WVXU. Read More

Local leaders are expecting businesses to form and flourish when the tech company builds its largest manufacturing facility in the world in central Ohio. Once Intel’s New Albany campus is up and running, it’ll need suppliers to keep its semiconductor chip manufacturing process going. However, it’s not just businesses directly serving Intel that are expected to surface. In Chandler, Arizona, a community has already been impacted by its own Intel plant.

According to data provided by Intel, the company spent $7.2 billion with Arizona-based organizations, and supports 1.5% of jobs across the entire state. In Ohio, New Albany Mayor Sloan Spalding expects the impact to be no different. Beyond the for-profit sector, Intel said the company, its foundation and employees gave $7 million to Arizona-based charities last year. Read More

Micron Technology is the latest high-tech giant to consider the Austin area for a multibillion-dollar manufacturing operation. The Idaho-based company said earlier this month that it plans to invest $40 billion through the end of the decade to build leading-edge memory manufacturing facilities in multiple phases in the U.S. In total, the investment would create up to 40,000 jobs in the U.S., including 5,000 highly paid technical and operational roles, the company said.

A number of other high-profile global tech giants also are considering big investments in the Austin area, including Samsung, NXP and Applied Materials. Samsung, which already is building a $17 billion chip factory in Taylor, has said it is evaluating the region for 11 more plants that could become operational on a staggered basis from 2034 to 2042. Read More