Intel is planning a major expansion of its semiconductor manufacturing operations in Hillsboro, according to documents filed with state air quality regulators last month.
While details of the project — including its scope, cost and timeline — remain elusive, Oregon’s largest private employer wrote in a July 7 application that it wants to lay the ground for expansion by getting approval for “additional fab space and associated emissions” at its main Washington County outpost, as well as prep for additional manufacturing at an older campus in Aloha. The term “fab” refers to a fabrication plant for making microchips.
The application, first reported by The Oregonian/OregonLive, is good news at a time state officials have prioritized boosting the state’s semiconductor industry. The project also ensures Oregon will remain home to some of Intel’s most advanced research and development projects.
On Monday, Gov. Tina Kotek signaled she is planning to give Intel $90 million as part of that effort. The governor’s office declined to provide specifics about Intel’s application, citing “proprietary information and trade secrets.”
“This award will result in a monumental investment for Oregon’s future, and will create thousands of good-paying construction, manufacturing, and research jobs for years to come,” Anca Matica, a Kotek spokeswoman, said in an email Tuesday. Matica added that Kotek is not currently planning to use a singular tool granted to her by lawmakers this year: The ability to expand growth boundaries outside of cities to make way for a major industrial project.
That’s in line with the proposal Intel lays out in its application to state environmental regulators, which mentions changes to two existing portions of the Hillsboro campus, along with “advances in technology manufacturing and additional manufacturing support operations.” The Aloha campus is Intel’s oldest facility in Oregon.
Previous expansions at Intel’s Gordon Moore Park at Ronler Acres — the massive Hillsboro campus renamed for the famous engineer and company leader who died earlier this year — have cost the company billions of dollars.
Oregon lawmakers this year set aside $260 million they hoped would prompt semiconductor companies to pursue expansion in Oregon, while at the same time offering new tax credits to companies that increase activity.
The money, passed with broad bipartisan support, was designed to spur major developments that could also vie for even more financial help through the $52 billion federal CHIPS and Science Act passed last year. And it was touted by lawmakers as a potentially game-changing investment after years of major semiconductor investment flowing to other states.
Oregon is home to roughly 15% of the nation’s semiconductor workforce, and microprocessors are the state’s largest export. Nonetheless, national attention regarding semiconductor investment has more recently been trained on states like Arizona, Ohio, Texas and New York.
Intel is not the only company vying for state money to expand in Oregon. The governor’s office said Tuesday that the state’s business development department received 16 applications for money from the Oregon CHIPS Fund, requesting more than $500 million — roughly double what’s available.
If Kotek plans to award any company more than $50 million from the fund, she needs to give lawmakers at least 30 days notice under state law. To date, the planned payment to Intel is the only decision to clear that threshold.