ncentives were a factor in making the city of Lehi and Utah a competitive option. However, other important factors were also considered.”
So says Ellen Fishpaw, spokeswoman for Texas Instruments, of the company’s commitment to an $11 billion semiconductor investment in Lehi, Utah, two weeks prior to the Biden-Harris Administration’s March 2023 CHIPS announcement. It was a testament to the state, representing Utah’s largest economic investment and the creation of 800 lucrative new jobs.
Fishpaw tells Site Selection that access to skilled talent, robust existing infrastructure and the company’s strong network of community partners were the factors that kept the focus on Utah throughout the site selection process.
“The selection of Utah was part of a competitive site selection process, and we considered multiple locations in the United States,” she says. It was consideration that didn’t take very long, as the company began talks with Lehi officials in late 2022 before making its February 2023 announcement.
Something Old, Runs Brand New
The 2021 acquisition of Micron Technology’s Lehi semiconductor factory for $900 million first led Texas Instruments to the state, and established TI’s fourth 300-mm fab in the nation.
“Utah has great access to skilled talent, a robust existing infrastructure and strong network of community partners, all of which makes Utah a great place for TI to continue to grow.”
— Ellen Fishpaw, Texas Instruments spokesperson, on the factors that led to an $11 billion recommitment to Lehi
The company stated in its release that the prospect of government funding to support semiconductor manufacturing cemented the fact that there is “no better time” to invest in a second facility in the city. Though seemingly non-reliant on murmurs surrounding the arrival of federal incentives, the company made its substantial move.
“It was competitive, and we were primarily against Arizona and Virginia,” says Economic Development Corporation of Utah Vice President of Business Development Colby Cooley.
Of the three states, Utah probably didn’t offer the semiconductor giant the biggest incentive, according to Cooley. While state leaders believe it’s important to create a partnership with companies through incentives, they shouldn’t constitute the state’s strongest asset.
“In the city of Lehi and the state of Utah, when we have a proposal for a new business to come in, we don’t just offer them a big financial package, and that’s what we were up against,” says Lehi Mayor Mark Johnson.
When news broke of TI’s recommitment to the city, leaders knew this would be beneficial not only for the city and state, but the entire nation.
As Fishpaw noted, and Cooley confirmed, Utah’s talent pool, higher education, location and business-friendly environment are strengths hard to pass up and vital to future company growth.
“Our investment in Lehi is a testament to the talented team we have in place there who will lay the groundwork for another important chapter in TI’s future,” says Fishpaw. “The co-location with our existing site will help us further scale our efforts and build on operational efficiencies as well as our experience in 300-mm. manufacturing excellence.”
Higher Education to Play Prominent Role
With hundreds of jobs in the pipeline, discussions between TI and Lehi officials largely surrounded ensuring talent not just for today, but decades to come.
The University of Utah, Brigham Young University, Utah Valley University, Mountainland Technical College and Salt Lake Community College are just a few of local institutions where the company aims to recruit new talent. They represent the best of the state’s university and community college offerings.
“There’s really a role for both of those separate sides of higher education to play here to make sure certain that they are training workers that will have the skill sets necessary to enter the industry,” says Cooley.
In addition, TI will provide training and education assistance programs of their own to advance skillsets and career pathways within the industry. As of now, they are continuing to work with the state to identify relevant workforce programs.
This additional facility comes as the company is expected to start making its first revenue from the Lehi site. Following acquisition of Micron’s location two years ago, TI has spent time in product development and testing to ensure quality control upon the start of production.
As TI’s semiconductors hit the market, Mayor Johnson reflects on the economic impact the city has felt from the tech industry migration. Industry leaders like Adobe, Micron and Texas Instruments provide a gravitational pull for not only fresh talent, but smaller software businesses and suppliers.
“When Micron first came here, we were told that there’d be at least 10 other software companies who would locate in the immediate area, and I believe there were 12 that we knew of that located immediately after they made their announcement,” says Johnson.
He hopes to see that same effect take place as TI expands in the city. Construction is slated to begin in 2023 and TI anticipates production to begin in 2026.
History has been made on over 820 acres in Iron County, Utah.
What kind of project would require this massive site? One that benefits the community and region at large.
In April 2023, the Utah Inland Port Authority (UIPA) approved the Iron Springs Project Area, the state’s first rural inland port.
“We are excited to announce the approval of the Iron Springs Project Area, which will provide a significant generational economic boost to Cedar City and surrounding areas,” said Ben Hart, UIPA executive director. “The Project Area will serve as a sustainable industrial park and transportation hub, bringing new jobs and opportunities to the region. This is a historic moment for Utah, and we are grateful for the community’s support and collaboration throughout this process.”
The project was introduced to Iron County Commissioners in February 2023 and received approval just weeks later.
By introducing the inland port, UIPA aims to not only support the county’s economic development goals but promote retention or expansion of existing companies while drawing in new investment. Market proximity from the new location offers access to major markets such as Salt Lake City, Las Vegas and Denver by rail, road or air.
As part of its recruitment strategy, UIPA will introduce incentive opportunities to these companies. If awarded, businesses will receive post-performance rebates on property tax differential, based on capital investment ranging from 10% for $25 million to 20% for $50 million and 30% for $100 million. Incentives will favor industries that fall lower on the water consumption scale.
In addition to drawing industry leaders to the port, long-term goals of the Iron Springs Project area include high-quality job creation, creating trade opportunities both domestically and internationally and supporting and promoting land use in the region.