Boise mayor to go to Biden’s signing of bill that’ll help Micron build a big plant. Why?

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Micron Technology, Inc., the large campus in East Boise, Monday, Nov. 8, 2021.

A major piece of federal legislation could bring semiconductor production back to Boise, with the city’s mayor attending the bill signing in Washington on Tuesday.

Mayor Lauren McLean will be in Washington as President Joe Biden signs the CHIPS and Science Act, which will provide a $52.7 billion investment in companies that manufacture semiconductors in the U.S. The legislation is part of an effort to counter China’s influence on the global semiconductor market and to elevate the American industry.

The company has not yet said where its new plant will be located, and McLean did not say if it would be in Boise. She told the Idaho Statesman that “that’s something you’ll have to talk with them about.”

As the headquarters of the fourth-largest semiconductor manufacturer in the world, the federal incentives could push Micron to build a large manufacturing plant here in Boise — or elsewhere in the country.

McLean’s participation was announced in a news release. So was that of Sanjay Mehrotra, Micron’s CEO.

Micron’s senior vice president, Rob Beard, told the Statesman Friday that the company is considering locations for its “mega-fab,” or fabrication, plant in the U.S.

The company has not announced where its new plant will be, and what the timeline would be for its construction.

McLean: ‘Anything that benefits ... Micron ... benefits Boise’

McLean told the Statesman on Monday that she would like to see Micron build its new plant here. With 7,000 employees in the Treasure Valley, Micron is the largest for-profit employer in Idaho.

“Our city worked hard to support the passage of CHIPS,” she said. “Our city believes deeply in the role that Micron plays in our community and the impact that Micron has on good-paying jobs and on expanding our vision of a city for everyone. This bill is a great step for Micron. It’s a great step for our city and state.”

She added, “Anything that benefits a homegrown company like Micron ... benefits Boise.”

The new plant would employ between 3,000 and 5,000 people, with around 10,000 jobs created including people not directly employed by Micron, the company said.

Idaho’s entire federal delegation, all Republicans, voted against the bill, though Sens. Jim Risch and Mike Crapo had previously pushed for action on domestic semiconductors, according to an April news release.

The legislation also includes billions of dollars for other provisions, like funding scientific research, according to The Washington Post.

“The CHIPS Act would have had my vote, but Senate Democrats added $200 billion dollars in unrelated spending,” Risch said in an emailed statement.

What is Micron’s history in Idaho?

The semiconductor giant was started in a Boise basement in 1978, according to the company’s website.

Since then, Micron has built its success in Idaho, including by manufacturing the chips that are used widely in electric goods, from vehicles to computers and household goods.

But while its headquarters have remained in Idaho, Micron stopped producing in Boise in 2009, according to previous Statesman reporting. The company has plants in Virginia and in several countries in Asia.

And a push to incentivize domestic manufacturing could bring production back to the Gem State.