PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) – Oregon lawmakers received a warning from Intel lobbyists saying the state is at risk of losing one of its largest industries to other states offering large incentive packages to lure employers.
The urgency for the state to act is fueled by the federal government dangling billions of dollars specifically for semiconductor and microchip manufacturing.
In a letter sent to Governor Brown and several state Republican and Democratic lawmakers, the Intel lobbyists said, “if Oregon chooses not to compete with other states or if we do not offer competitive incentive packages, Oregon could miss out altogether.”
The letter also pointed to the economic impact Intel has had on the state saying “according to a recent study, Intel’s total employment impact in Oregon is over 105,000 jobs or 4.0 percent of statewide employment with $10.0 billion in labor income. In addition, Intel’s value add (GDP) to Oregon is over $19 billion.”
This warning comes after Intel, one of Oregon’s largest employers, announced over the summer the company is building a $100 billion campus in Ohio. Additionally, Micron, which has Pacific Northwest roots, announced plans for a $100 billion factory in New York.
Those announcements are wake up calls for Oregon.
“The lesson we’ve been learning from other states, they’ve been really investing in getting land ready, they’ve been investing in tax incentives, they’ve been investing in universities to build up work force. There’s a whole program of work we think our state needs to take on,” said Andy Shaw, Metro interim development director.
The letter went on to say despite those recent setbacks, Oregon is well positioned to succeed and take advantage of the federal government investments.
Shaw says Metro has urged the state to consider tax incentives explaining “Oregon has an opportunity as an existing leader in the semiconductor industry.”
KOIN 6 News reached out to Oregon’s gubernatorial candidates for their responses to the letter.
In a statement to KOIN 6 News, Republican gubernatorial candidate Christine Drazan said “Governor Brown ended Oregon’s R&D tax credit. Now she wants it back. She has had two terms to focus on growing Oregon industries, including the semiconductor industry, and instead has done everything in her power to drive out investment through higher taxes and excessive regulations. The governor had her opportunity to lead on this issue. Instead, she chose to sit by while Intel invested hundreds of billions elsewhere. Only when it became a political embarrassment did she change her approach.”
Drazan added “I am ready to work with community leaders and policymakers to partner with businesses who are willing to make deep, long-term investments in Oregon. The recent $1 million investment in accelerated permitting is a drop in the bucket compared to what is needed to address the administrative hurdles that have prevented more growth and investment. We need leadership at the executive level that is prepared to advocate for reforms that will result in real, lasting change while also protecting other key industries. We must also address the remaining challenges raised by the semiconductor competitiveness task force, which notably go unanswered by the governor’s proposals, including regulatory certainty and business taxes. It will take a new direction for Oregon to position itself to compete for federal dollars and support the jobs and business growth that will drive our success for the next generation.”
Unaffiliated candidate Betsy Johnson’s campaign told KOIN 6 News “Betsy can’t believe Intel still can’t get the governor’s office to pick up the…phone. We don’t need more letters, reports, and studies that don’t go anywhere. We need leadership and action, now. As governor, she’ll personally recruit these jobs, find the land and cut the taxes.”
Additionally, Democratic candidate Tina Kotek said “I am committed to supporting the growth of the semiconductor industry in Oregon. As Governor, I look forward to working with the legislature to build on the ongoing work of the Oregon Semiconductor Competitiveness Task Force.”
Kotek added “many industries, including advanced manufacturing, have identified a need for “upskilling” to keep pace with changes in technology. I will support direct and ongoing funding for workforce development and partner with community colleges and registered apprenticeship programs to provide pathways to new skills and new careers.