AZ Big Media Here’s how Arizona’s semiconductor industry is poised to thrive
Senator Kyrsten Sinema last week visited Arizona State University’s MacroTechnology Works facility to observe the impact of the CHIPS and Science Act on semiconductor manufacturing and Arizona’s semiconductor industry.
During the tour, Sinema highlighted Arizona’s economic strengths that encourage industry leaders to invest in the state. “We have the right economic climate, and we have the right brains for us to be not just a regional hub, but a national and international competitor,” Sinema said.
The goal of the CHIPS and Science Act, Sinema said, was to make the most of those benefits. “The idea is to create an ecosystem so that we can do the processing and creation of microchips, from soup to nuts.”
The CHIPS and Science Act, which was signed into law this summer, increase invest in domestic manufacturing and strengthen industry supply chains. The act has received bipartisan praise from leaders across the state, including Governor Doug Ducey, Phoenix Mayor Kate Gallego, ASU President Michael Crow, and the President and CEO of the Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Arizona, Danny Seiden.
These domestic investments have been supported by recent trade policies aimed at countering China, the biggest competitor for domestic growth. The Biden administration earlier this month announcement new restrictions on China’s ability to obtain advanced semiconductor technology.
This drastic change in trade policy will prevent US companies from supplying semiconductor products, equipment and design software to China without a special license, and it is likely that most licenses will be denied.
The Chinese semiconductor sector is “extremely dependent on American technologysays Gregory Allen, director of the AI Governance Project and senior fellow at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. By stifling China’s access to American resources, the United States has dealt a crippling blow to China’s ambitions to dominate the future of AI technology, he claims.
While these actions are aggressive, they have boosted domestic semiconductor production. The investment company JP Morgan, for example, said that Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TSMC) “is now priced attractively, with the market overly focused on areas of higher temporary shock value, such as US restrictions on Chinese technology”.
TSMC is becoming one of Arizona’s most important semiconductor growth leaders, with plans on track to open a new $12 billion factory by 2024 in North Phoenix. As TSMC searches for suppliers for its new Phoenix factory, companies responding to these requests are also beginning to open locations in the metropolitan area.
Semiconductor companies with a long history in the Arizona market are also continuing to expand. Intel is investing $20 billion in new facilities at its Chandler Ocotillo campus.
Community colleges have played a particularly important role in preparing workers for technical careers in semiconductor development. A new initiative between Intel and Maricopa Community Colleges offers a training for those without a graduate degree to qualify for entry-level factory positions.
Students who successfully complete the program will be eligible for a $270 stipend, which covers full tuition while learning valuable skills for factory work. “You’ll learn the basics, like using hand tools, hydraulics, and electronics,” Jeff Davis, Intel Equipment Technician said.
All of these investments in Arizona’s semiconductor industry are preparing for a vibrant future for Arizona. In a statement backed by the Arizona Commerce Authority and the Greater Phoenix Economic Council, Sinema urged the US Department of Commerce to pursue partnerships with the private sector and educational institutions.
“Arizona has an incredible arsenal of experts with diverse semiconductor knowledge who are ready to bolster research and development efforts,” Sinema said. “Establishing a hub-and-spoke model will facilitate the exchange of ideas and collaboration among partners to keep America competitive, safe and strong.”