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Micron holds symbolic groundbreaking on $15 billion plant: ‘the desert… will be transformed’

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Micron Technology welcomed an array of public officials for a symbolic groundbreaking event on its campus in southeast Boise Monday Morning. The company announced earlier this month it would invest $15 billion in expansion at the Boise site to add manufacturing of semiconductor chips back to US soil.

Company CEO Sanjay Mehrotra was joined by US Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm, US Senator Jim Risch, Idaho Gov. Brad Little, and Boise Mayor Lauren McLean, along with a host of other well-known names in the community.

The groundbreaking included officials shoveling dirt and a series of explosives off in the distance that ended with puffs of red, white, and blue smoke.

Won’t start, yet

A zoomed-in image of explosives used at a Micron groundbreaking in Boise. Photo: Don Day/BoiseDev

Micron can’t begin actual construction on the plant until it has permits in place from the City of Boise, which it has not yet applied for. But, Mehrotra said they hoped to start construction “shortly” and that production would begin in 2025.

“Over the coming years, the desert around us will be completely transformed by our investment, the largest private investment ever made in Idaho,” Mehrotra said. “This will bring manufacturing back to Boise and create 17,000 jobs in Idaho, including 2,000 direct Micron jobs here in Boise.”

He said the site would have more than 600,000 square feet of clean room space, the largest facility of its type in the US.

The company said it would link the existing clean room and fabrication facility used for research and development with the new expansion. Mehrotra said having the two at the same site will bring additional efficiencies for the company.

‘Fifteen billion… is huge’

Secy. Granholm asks a question while Sen. Jim Risch, White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) leader Dr. Alondra Nelson, Sanjay Mehrotra, Boise Mayor McLean, and Vicki Risch look on. Photo: Don Day/BoiseDev

“Fifteen billion dollars is so huge,” Granholm said. “I’m a former governor myself, and I can’t remember anything that size in Michigan. You will be the envy of governors, senators, and mayors going forward.”

Sen. Risch provided a detailed explanation of his thought process on the CHIPS & Science Act

“This starts in the spring of 2020 with a handful of us who work in the national security lane with a handful of senators on a bipartisan basis… that talk about the dangers we have and the challenges we face,” Risch said. “One of the things that came to light was the fact that the semiconductor supply chain was challenged. “

He said he supported the legislation all through the process and explained why he ultimately voted no, and said other members of Idaho’s congressional delegation had similar thoughts.

“My spending friends hung another $200 billion” on the bill, Risch said. “The delegation… the Idaho delegation painfully voted against it with the knowledge that it was probably going to pass. A lot of us believe that there are incredible vulnerabilities to (the US) right now.”

Micron’s existing R&D facility. Photo: Don Day/BoiseDev

Little noted how close the Micron site is to the Oregon Trail.

“Most folks were bound for Oregon, and not many stayed here,” Little said. “But as this community developed and we put in our roads and irrigation… the ones that were tough & innovative came back to Idaho.”

Boise Mayor Lauren McLean confirmed BoiseDev’s reporting last fall of discussions involving potential Micron expansion happening at city hall.

“I had a whole team of Micron folks and state folks and Idaho Power coming through city hall looking at what the future of the semiconductor industry could mean in Idaho,” she said. “We thought of the people of Micron today and the potential for what it meant for our kids, their kids, and theirs’ that is so hard to imagine. This today when we have some sort of explosion and throw some dirt marks the beginnings of what’s to come for our residents, our city, our schools, our economy, and our country.”

Brothers Joe and Ward Parkinson, who founded Micron, along with Doug Pitman and Dennis Wilson, attended the event.

“All I can say is I am thrilled that Sanjay is devoted to Idaho and continuing with the growth here,” Joe Parkinson told BoiseDev’s Margaret Carmel. “I congratulate him and everyone here on the job well done.”

Don Day - BoiseDev Editor & Founder
Don Day - BoiseDev Editor & Founder
Don is the founder and publisher of BoiseDev. He is a National Edward R. Murrow Award winner and a Stanford University John S. Knight Fellow. Contact him at [email protected].

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