Micron Technology CEO Sanjay Mehrotra continues his push for federal legislation to boost chipmakers like his Boise-based company. Now, he has backup from 122 other CEOs and similar leaders.
The Semiconductor Industry Association sent the letter to Congress urging it to “act urgently to pass a bipartisan, bicameral compromise version of competitiveness legislation.”
Mehrotra is joined by a broad swath of tech CEOs, including from HP, Hewlett Packard Enterprise, Google parent Alphabet, Intel, Microsoft, and Uber.
The House and Senate have both passed versions of the so-called CHIPS for America Act, which Micron says would provide $52 billion in funding for the expansion of domestic chipmaking. The two bodies have yet to come together on a reconciled piece of legislation.
Boise and Idaho impacts
Passage of the act could have significant impacts in Boise and in Idaho.
The Idaho Legislature passed, and Gov. Brad Little signed, a piece of legislation that would provide significant tax breaks for Idaho semiconductor manufacturing expansion. The legislation is tied to the passage of the federal bill, which could give Micron tax breaks both at the state and federal levels. Micron would also benefit from 2008 legislation that inadvertently capped its property tax burden in Ada County – meaning an expansion would incur no additional property taxes.
As BoiseDev has reported, based on extensive interviews, the company has targeted its site in southeast Boise for expansion. The Idaho Department of Commerce said a project valued at more than $1.8 billion could be in the offing. While it did not tie the investment to Micron, many of the publicly-available details match.
The Idaho Department of Labor lists Micron as the largest for-profit employer in the state, with 5,000-6,000 employees (St. Luke’s Health System employs more people, but operates as a non-profit). Currently, the Boise operation serves as Micron’s lead research and development facility, and the company has poured in significant investment in the last decade. But most chip manufacturing now happens overseas.
Testifying to Congress this spring, Mehrotra said his company’s expansion plans are significant, and that domestic expansion would only be possible without the incentives.
“We continue to explore plans to build new fabs in the United States. Our expansion plans, if executed, would constitute one of the largest single semiconductor investments in the history of the United States,” Mehrotra said. “It would require close coordination with federal and state partners to ensure the economic viability of our operations in a global, competitive marketplace.”
Stalled in Congress
The letter comes as action in Congress has stalled. The US Senate passed the bill US Innovation and Competition Act a year ago, which includes the CHIPS Act. The US House passed the America COMPETES Act in February, which also includes the CHIPS funding. But the two houses must reconcile the two pieces of legislation and put it up for a vote in each chamber. President Joe Biden would have to then sign the act, which he’s signaled he would do.
The coalition letter is addressed to Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-California, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-New York, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnel, R-Kentucky and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-California.
“The rest of the world is not waiting for the U.S. to act,” the CEOs wrote. “Our global competitors are investing in their industry, their workers, and their economies, and it is imperative that Congress act to enhance U.S. competitiveness. We call on Congress to act promptly to achieve a bipartisan agreement that can be passed and signed into law. Now is the time for Congress to complete its work on this important bill.”
Mehrotra has continued to stump for the bill. After his high profile testimony in front of Congress, he’s continued to press lawmakers, including Mike Crapo, R-Idaho, John Cornyn, R-Texas and others. Just this week he hosted Sen Tammy Baldwin, D-Wisconsin, at the company’s fabrication plant in Manassas, Virginia.