A supplier to the semiconductor industry is plowing $300 million into an expansion of its operations in Schuylkill County.
- The investment by supplier EMD Electronics includes construction of a 96,500 square-foot facility near Tamaqua, expanding the company’s production of specialty gases used in semiconductor and electronics production.
- The company’s investment is expected to create at least 68 jobs and retain 289 others at EMD’s existing 375-acre site in Schuylkill, where the company is one of the largest employers.
- Pennsylvania is providing nearly $1.2 million in grants to support the project, according to a press release from the Shapiro administration, which touted the investment as a win for the state’s economy.
- “We are planting a flag and sending a clear message to the world that Pennsylvania is open for business,” Shapiro said in a statement.
- The announcement comes amid a push by U.S. officials to boost domestic production of semiconductors.
What’s EMD: It is the North American electronics business of Merck KGaA, a science and tech firm based in Darmstadt Germany and a separate entity from the U.S. drug maker named Merck.
- EMD is investing $3.5 billion in its plants worldwide under an initiative called Level Up.
- “Despite near-term cautions due to the industry’s cyclical nature, the demand for semiconductor materials remains very promising long term,” Kai Beckmann, CEO of the Merck KGaA electronics business said in a statement.
- The planned facility in Hometown will produce tungsten hexafluoride and nitrogen trifluoride, both of which are used in semiconductor manufacturing.
- Operations in the new factory are expected to start in the first quarter of 2024, according to EMD spokesperson Johanna Batista.
- EMD is also investing at its sites in Arizona, California and Texas.
- The company had sales of about $24.4 billion for its most recent fiscal year, with about $4.4 billion coming from the electronics business, according to an earnings release last month.
Why semiconductors: They are critical components in just about every electronic device, including those used in national defense.
- However, the U.S. share of semiconductor production has fallen to 12% of the world’s output, down from 37% in 1990, according to a 2022 report by the Semiconductor Industry Association, a trade group.
- To revive the domestic industry, U.S. lawmakers and the Biden administration rolled out a $50 billion program last year that includes billions of dollars in incentives for manufacturers.
- States have followed with what the Associated Press as a “war of the states” to lure new semiconductor plants, as well as factories making electric vehicles and batteries.
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