Friday, January 7, 2022
At least two major semiconductor manufacturers are considering a site south of the Triangle in Chatham County for the construction of a mammoth semiconductor manufacturing plant, an industry source tells WRAL TechWire. And a corporate real estate executive confirms that there is “lots of interest” in the location from multiple companies.
While not identifying the firms, a source in the semiconductor industry who requested anonymity said North Carolina is “well positioned” to land a project that could be worth as much as $30 billion and create as many as 10,000 jobs.
The site under consideration is Triangle Innovation Point, which covers some 1,200 acres and has been pitched as a possible “megasite” location for a manufacturing operation such as for automobiles.
“It’s the only site in North Carolina that’s suitable,” the executive added.
Were North Carolina to land such a plant, the development would dwarf other expansions made in the state and be on the scale of the dollars discussed three years ago when Amazon considered the Triangle for its “HQ2” project.
The executive cited three reasons for the interest based on the needs of a chip manufacturer:
3. Workforce availability
“North Carolina is well positioned with water and fairly well positioned with power from Duke Energy. Duke can provide the basics,” he explained.
As for workforce, semiconductor companies are asking “where are the workers? You can’t build a factory if there is no one to man it,” he explained. And a training program possibly including apprenticeships with needed, he added.
The state is frequently sited as a reason for corporate expansions because of its labor force. Such was the case in 2021 when North Carolina landed more than 21,000 new jobs which the NC Department of Commerce says was a record.
North Carolina recently landed Toyota which will build a big $1.29 billion battery plant at another megasite in the Triangle.
However, the exec cautioned that no final decision will be made until Congress passes what’s called the U.S. Innovation and Competition Act. It includes $52 billion for semiconductor research, design, and manufacturing.
Chip firms are looking to build facilities in the US as the world fights a continuing shortage in semiconductors and US plants would be less susceptible to risks posed by global sources such as chips from China and Taiwan.
North Carolina commerce and legislative sources either declined to comment or did not respond to a request for information.
“LOTS OF INTEREST”
Matt Winters, executive vice president for JLL, the corporate real estate listing agent for Triangle Innovation Point, said interest is keen in the property.
“We are seeing lots of interest from multiple projects,” said Winters in an interview with WRAL TechWire this week. “A lot of activity for a large project, and the site is one of the few in the state of North Carolina and in the Southeast that has really strong fundamentals with access to talent and infrastructure.”
The Triangle Business Journal first reported the possibility of North Carolina landing a semiconductor plant.
Winters declined to comment on whether chip manufacturer Micron was among the companies considering the site, but told WRAL TechWire that there is a list of some 15 to 20 active projects that are considering locating at the Triangle Innovation Point site.
“I’d expect that we’ll have an announcement on that piece in the next couple of months,” Winters added.
The property owners, Kaplan Companies of Denver, Co., and JLL have already brought on the Samet Corporation to develop a 400-acre Tip West site, said Winters.
The site also includes an additional 1,800 acres, Triangle Innovation Point East, which Winters said could accommodate a large scale manufacturing facility.
Winters notes that both parcels provide potential companies a facility located in close proximity to Raleigh, as well as access to a rail line operated by CSX, and easy access to Highway US-1. JLL is working closely with CSX and Duke Energy on the infrastructure, and the site is already capable of “heavy power,” said Winters, adding that water and sewer will be extended as needed should the site be selected.
“On all of these, we’re working really closely with CSX, Duke Energy, the City of Sanford, and Chatham County, to try to land one of these projects,” said Winters. “It’s obvious that there is so much growth along this US-1 corridor,” he added. “That’s a part of our business case for what we’re doing at Triangle Innovation Point.”
“This site is even closer in to Raleigh, and for that reason, we think it is really ripe to land a significant manufacturing project, because it is closer in to where the talent lives, and it is really easy to get there along US-1,” said Winters.
And an announcement could come in a few months, said Winters. “The Toyota announcement in Greensboro, from a few weeks ago, was really important,” said Winters. “It was, honestly, a bit of a shot in the arm for the Triangle Innovation Point site.”
“We are seeing several projects that are related to that industry,” said Winters. “North Carolina as a whole, and the Triangle Innovation Point are likely to benefit from additional EV related projects that are coming up on the heels of Toyota.”
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