Micron scouts Austin area for multibillion-dollar chip plant that would bring jobs, commercial and residential development

Boise tech company considers counties near Texas capital city

Micron President and CEO Sanjay Mehrotra with Lockhart, Texas (Facebook, Wikipedia)
Micron President and CEO Sanjay Mehrotra with Lockhart, Texas (Facebook, Wikipedia)

The chances that Texas will land another multibillion-dollar semiconductor plant just got slightly better.

A site that Micron Technology was considering in Chatham County, North Carolina, is off the table, the Austin Business Journal reported. That eliminates one of the many competitors vying to land the factory.

Micron has been poking around Caldwell and Williamson counties in central Texas for a few months. The Boise, Idaho, corporation is one of the largest semiconductor companies in the world. Last fall it announced plans to invest $150 billion expanding existing chipmaking facilities and potentially building new ones. It’s considering sites in Texas, California and Arizona—and, until recently, North Carolina—for new factories. The company told North Carolina officials last week that it is removing the Chatham County site from consideration.

The company is considering factors such as the presence of a deep talent pool, reliable and competitively priced utilities, sustainability and regulatory friendliness in its site search. Any deal will no doubt also involve local incentives such as tax breaks, grants, infrastructure and workforce assistance. Several sources told ABJ that the company is looking at Lockhart, Texas, 33 miles southeast of Austin. Micron has also considered Williamson County for the plant, ABJ reported.

If Micron picks a Central Texas location for the facility, it will be the second company to bring a major new player to the area’s semiconductor industry. Samsung announced last year that it’s building a $17 billion chip-making plant in Taylor, Texas, 30 miles north of Austin. The now-dead North Carolina Micron deal would have entailed a $40 billion investment and 5,000-10,000 jobs.

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While the Austin area still appears to be in the running for the Micron plant, Intel passed on Central Texas when considering where to build a new semiconductor facility, ABJ reported. Last year the California company announced plans to invest $100 billion in new fabrication plants. It’s already investing $20 billion in two Arizona factories. Intel approached Williamson County officials about a possible new factory at the Samsung was negotiating for incentives there, but nothing came to fruition there. Instead, it looks like it’s leaning toward the Ohio area for the new facility.

Perhaps it’s just as well. The last time Intel ventured into Austin in a big way—in 2000—it abandoned the half-built shell of its 10-story planned chip-design center for six years before finally imploding the downtown structure.

UPDATE: An earlier version of this story misattributed the first sentence in the fourth paragraph to a Micron spokesperson. The sentence in fact relays information that was in the cited Austin Business Journal articles, and the fact that Samsung has said that it will build a new manufacturing facility in Taylor, Texas, has been reported extensively.

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[ABJ][ABJ][ABJ] — Cindy Widner