PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) – As the federal government dangles billions of dollars in front of states to develop the semiconductor and microchip industry, Oregon stands out as the nation’s leader. But how long can its rank last?
Oregon already has 15% of the nation’s semiconductor workforce, but now the U.S. government is bringing more of the industry back stateside. That competition could hurt Oregon’s standing.
To keep that from happening, Oregon lawmakers have a solution: $200 million in grants for development that will attract some of the $50 billion available in this first round of federal funding.
There’s also $10 million that lawmakers are considering for training.
This is all part of Senate Bill 4, which would also give the governor authority to create industrial zones outside of the urban growth boundary. The bill lays out guardrails on size and location.
Hillsboro Mayor Steve Callaway is in favor of expansion, but opponents say there’s already plenty of industrial land available within the growth boundary.
Sam Diaz, the executive director for 1000 Friends of Oregon, said they want to be “laser-focused on a chips act application.”
“We’re interested in helping our economy and getting more high-quality jobs in a successful chips act application,” Diaz said. “What we’re not interested in is the perception people can pay to increase the value of their land through a legislative change.”
But Mayor Callaway said it’s time to seize an opportunity.
“It shouldn’t be something that is going to prevent us from taking advantage of once-in-a-lifetime opportunities, you know, that are critically important to the economic health of our state,” he said.
Diaz notes that there are eight businesses that have already expressed interest in working with the state for these grants. He says none of them mentioned land outside of the urban growth boundary.
SB 4 is still in the committee process, so it’s yet to go to a vote by either chamber. The first round of funding from the U.S. government begins in May.