Oct 5, 2022 - Technology

Micron CEO says New York plant will revive U.S. leadership

A rendering of the future Micron plant in New York State.

A rendering of the future Micron plant in New York State. Image: Micron

Micron CEO Sanjay Mehrotra tells Axios that its massive investment in a New York State chip facility will create as many as 50,000 jobs and allow 10% of the total global memory chip market to be U.S.-made by the end of the decade, up from 2% today.

Why it matters: The U.S. has committed $52 billion to reboot the domestic semiconductor industry. The push comes amid growing concern that the concentration of leading-edge chip production in Taiwan and Korea represents a threat to both national and economic security.

  • "Our customers want to see a diversified supply chain as well," Mehrotra said in a telephone interview.

Driving the news: Micron said on Tuesday it will spend as much as $100 billion over the next 20 years to manufacture state-of-the-art memory chips in Clay, New York, outside of Syracuse.

  • The company hopes to begin on-the-ground preparations for the New York facility next year, start construction in 2024 and start producing chips by the latter part of the decade, Mehrotra said.
  • Micron, which is based in Utah, makes some memory chips in the U.S., but all its leading-edge production has been overseas for some time.

The big picture: Micron joins a long list of chipmakers looking to take advantage of $52 billion in federal funding approved by Congress.

  • Intel, TSMC, Samsung and others have announced significant U.S. expansion plans in recent months, spurred by the promise of federal dollars.
  • While many companies have announced plans to build new facilities based on federal funding support, Mehrotra said continued tax credits are needed for sustained investment.

Yes, but: All this new fab construction comes as the years-long chip shortage appears to be easing, with fears there could be a potential glut in the near term as demand slows and manufacturing capacity increases.

  • Mehrotra acknowledged that the chip industry is cyclical and the memory business especially so, but said Micron can scale back operations in the short term while still planning for an overall increase in long-term demand.
  • "You have seen Micron take decisive actions," he said. "We know how to navigate through this."

Between the lines: While Micron has secured significant financial support from New York State along with the expected federal funding, the company still needs to grow the pool of skilled workers capable of operating the plant.

  • HR chief April Arnzen told Axios that Micron is working with a number of nearby universities but also wants to create apprenticeship programs to "make sure that we access underrepresented talent in a way this industry has not."
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