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Why Arizona formed national semiconductor economic road map

The Arizona Commerce Authority recently announced the formation of the National Semiconductor Roadmap. The goal is to craft a blueprint to advance United States semiconductor competitiveness. Meanwhile, the Greater Phoenix Economic Council says the Valley is poised to play a more global role.

In north Phoenix, construction is underway on a $12 billion facility for Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TSMC) to make chips that power everything from cars to washing machines. 

“With that 5 nanomenter product, which is the fastest silicon on planet Earth right now, we’re going to do great things in Phoenix,” said Peter Cleveland with TSMC.

In Chandler, Intel recently broke ground on two new chip-making facilities as part of a $20 billion investment in Arizona.

“We will create more than 3,000 high tech, high wage Intel jobs,” said Angela Creedon with Intel. “Once completed, the Ocotillo campus in Chandler will have a total of six factories manufacturing leading edge semiconductors.

During a webinar hosted by the Greater Phoenix Economic Council, Chris Camacho, the group’s president and CEO said this is the time for Arizona to shine.

“Certainly we’re unapologetic in our approach of positioning greater Phoenix to become the top global hub for semiconductors and that’s really a moon shot expectation that we have but we do believe that it’s attainable and achievable,” he said.

Camacho said suppliers for the industry are looking at potential locations to set up shop across the Valley. 

“A lot of these chemical packaging and other companies look up and down I-10, looking on the southwest side, I mean all around the region. So I wouldn’t be — you wouldn’t’ be — surprised if two years from now if we had more than a dozen or two dozen companies further supporting the semiconductor foundries in the market,” he said.

Through its national initiative, the Arizona Commerce Authority will work with industry leaders like Intel and TSMC, along with educational institutions and the public sector to focus on workforce, supply chain and infrastructure.

According to  ACA, the U.S. share of global semiconductor production peaking at 37% in 1990. Since then, the share has fallen to 12%, with nearly 80% of manufacturing facilities, known as “fabs,” now concentrated in Asia.

In a press release, Sandra Watson, ACA president said: “We’re proud to help lead this historic effort alongside our state and industry partners to develop a shared vision, one that can help drive American semiconductor leadership for decades to come.”

As a senior field correspondent, Christina Estes focuses on stories that impact our economy, your wallet and public policy.