Micron cagey on plans in tax-incentive application

Chip maker says without breaks, a huge manufacturing plant may go elsewhere

Micron's Sanjay Mehrotra (Micron Technology, Illustration by The Real Deal with Getty)
Micron's Sanjay Mehrotra (Micron Technology, Illustration by The Real Deal with Getty)

Micron Technology is looking to build a huge, $80 billion semiconductor factory somewhere in central Texas — eventually… maybe.

The Idaho firm’s recent application for tax incentives included the required information — the minimum $80 billion investment promising the minimum 80 new jobs, and a proposed location in the Austin exurb of Lockhart — but the firm also made clear that it had “not made any final decisions regarding the location, timing or scope of any expansion plans,” according to the Austin Business Journal.

If Lockhart — a town of roughly 15,000 about 35 miles southeast of Austin with a reputation as the barbecue capital of Texas — doesn’t offer Micron sufficient Chapter 313 tax exemptions, the chip-maker made clear, the proposed eight-phase chip fabrication plant could end up in another state, or even another country.

“Texas’ notoriously high property tax is often a burden on developers,” Micron said in its application, adding that, without a Chapter 313 agreement, “the economic rate of return on this project would be greater in locations outside the state of Texas.”

The Chapter 313 program allows local governments to cap the appraised value of a developed property at $10 million to $100 million for up to 10 years.

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The chip-maker’s filing may have more to do with securing a last-minute bite at the juicy Chapter 313 apple than with any immediate plan to expand.

“Texas’s Chapter 313 program sunsets in December 2022,” Micron told the ABJ. “Filing these applications now allows us to preserve options for potential future expansion needed to meet long-term memory demand.”

But according to Micron’s application, the company might start the first phase of construction in January of 2023 and launch the location’s operations by the end of December 2026. Even on that timetable, the eighth phase of construction wouldn’t wrap up until 2042 — 10 years after any tax break approved now would have expired.

— Maddy Sperling