Aug 7, 2023 - Business

North Texas' "Silicon Prairie" gets billions in new investment

Illustration of a wireframe futuristic landscape of mountains surrounded by abstract circles, radical colors and semiconductors.

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

A set of multibillion-dollar chipmaking facilities under construction in Sherman — a city of 45,000 about 60 miles north of Dallas — could solidify North Texas as a global microchip and tech leader.

The big picture: From North Texas to Phoenix to upstate New York, cities and regions across the country are vying for a piece of a $280 billion federal package President Biden signed last year in hopes of boosting the domestic chipmaking industry and reducing the country's reliance on Chinese tech components.

Catch up quick: Microchips are critical for everything from phones and laptops to vehicles and home appliances, but a shortage over the last few years led to global supply chain woes.

Zoom in: States are also passing big incentives for semiconductor manufacturing.

  • In June, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott approved the Texas CHIPS Act, directing $1.4 billion toward microchip research and manufacturing initiatives statewide.
  • The legislation will create the Texas Semiconductor Innovation Fund, intended to subsidize chip manufacturing and fund advanced R&D centers at the University of Texas at Austin and Texas A&M University.

What's happening: All those billions could be especially transformative for Sherman.

  • Dallas-based Texas Instruments is building four new factories there, the first of which it says could be producing tens of thousands of chips a day by 2025.
  • GlobiTech, a subsidiary of Taiwan-based GlobalWafers Co., is building a $5 billion semiconductor manufacturing plant in Sherman. It expects the facility to eventually produce 2.4 million silicon wafers per month and create 1,500 jobs.

By the numbers: The first phase of the Texas Instruments project is expected to raise between $150-$280 million in tax revenue, per the Dallas Morning News.

  • The GlobiTech project could generate between $160-$240 million.

Sherman's proximity to Lake Texoma, one of the country's largest reservoirs, makes it particularly well-suited to the water-intensive chipmaking process.

What's next: Sherman's population could double over the next 5-10 years, city manager Robby Hefton told the Dallas Morning News, driven by the emerging chipmaking sector.

  • The median selling price of homes in Grayson County, where Sherman sits, has soared 61% compared to pre-pandemic prices, per Redfin.

Flashback: In 1958, a Texas Instruments engineer filed the first patent for the integrated circuit, revolutionizing the world of electronics and sparking the creation of a tech industry north of Dallas eventually dubbed "Silicon Prairie."

What they're saying: "This is a national competition to design and build the future of semiconductors, and it is a race that Texas must win for our state, our workforce, our national security and our future," Gov. Abbott, a Republican, said in a statement earlier this year.

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