Huge Taiwan Semiconductor Plant will Attract Other Businesses to Metro Phoenix, Company says

Article originally posted on AZ Central on March 18, 2021

A land use map of the north Phoenix area where Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. plans to open a chip manufacturing plant.

Officials at Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. said they expect the company’s massive new north-Phoenix plant will attract suppliers and possibly customers as the Valley’s technology hub continues to expand.

The company has started to hire engineers for the $12 billion semiconductor plant that is projected to open in 2024, eventually bringing up to 1,900 jobs.

“We do expect the supply chain to strengthen due to our presence in Arizona,” Nina Kao, a Taiwan Semiconductor spokeswoman, said during an phone interview from Taiwan.

“Some of our suppliers plan to expand in Arizona,” she added, without citing names.

Momentum for metro Phoenix has been building lately, including from the automotive industry, a heavy user of semiconductors. Vancouver-based ElectraMeccanica this week announced it would build a car-manufacturing plant in Mesa, joining fellow electric-vehicle makers Nikola Corp. and Lucid Motors, both of which have operations in Pinal County.

The automotive industry is one of four key areas of growth for Taiwan Semiconductor. The others are smartphones, the internet of things and high-performance computing.

Expanding tech base

Suppliers also could add to the industry’s presence here. For example, the CEO of LCY Chemicals, a Taiwan company that supplies the semiconductor industry and others, recently expressed interest in locating a plant in Arizona.

“Arizona has a strong ecosystem for the semiconductor industry,” Kao said. “It’s one reason we picked Arizona.”

Taiwan Semiconductor, the world’s largest dedicated or contract producer of silicon chips, will join a number of other chip makers with operations here including Intel, Microchip Technology, ON Semiconductor and NXP Semiconductors.

The company has set up operations in offices near Metrocenter to serve as an administrative base while it constructs the factory. “It’s on track, proceeding as planned,” said Kao about the $12 billion facility near Loop 303 and 43rd Avenue.

Open Phoenix jobs can be viewed at TSMCcareers.com.

Weather, resources an issue

Kao said stable manufacturing conditions, which tend to favor Arizona, are critical to semiconductor manufacturersand could further the area’s appeal for the industry.

Power outages like the one that hit Texas earlier this year amid a deep freeze have the potential to shut down equipment, requiring them to be re-tooled. Severe weather also can change temperatures and humidity levels in clean rooms and thus hurt wafer quality, Kao added.

Semiconductor plants run by Samsung and others in and around Austin were idled for weeks following the inclement February weather and resulting blackouts.

Kao said Taiwan Semiconductor isn’t concerned about weather or resource problems in metro Phoenix, including water availability.

Taiwan Semiconductor recycles 87% of the water used in the manufacturing process and pays close attention to waste management, air quality and other environmental aspects, she said.

“When we picked the location, everything was assessed,” said Kao, who attended the University of Arizona, earning a degree in industrial engineering. “It’s not something to stop us from investing in Arizona.”

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