One of the world's largest semiconductor companies is making a $3 billion investment in northern Virginia to expand its manufacturing facility and add 1,100 jobs.
Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam said Wednesday that the decision by Boise, Idaho-based Micron Technology to expand its Manassas facility is "one of the largest manufacturing investments in the history of this commonwealth" at a groundbreaking ceremony Wednesday.
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Micron decided to expand its existing facility in Manassas after considering offers from competing domestic and international locations, including Singapore. Micron CEO Sanjay Mehrotra said the success of the existing facility as well as the economic incentives offered by the state and the city of Manassas helped tip the scales in Virginia's favor.
Micron's decision comes as northern Virginia continues to court tech giant Amazon as it seeks a location for a $5 billion second headquarters that could employ as many as 50,000.
Stephen Moret, CEO of the state's economic development authority, said winning the battle for Micron provides the state a measure of momentum as it competes with 19 other jurisdictions for Amazon, though he also cautioned against reading too much into how any specific factor might be weighed by Amazon.
"Any time a top-flight company goes through a competitive site selection process .... to win that competition is a major signal to corporate America and executives around the world," Moret said.
The incentives include a planned $70 million grant from the state, and a series of tax breaks offered by Manassas, a city about 40 miles west of the nation's capital that was eager to keep the company that serves as its largest employer and taxpayer.
The $70 million in state funds will require approval from the General Assembly. Moret said the grant is too large for the administration to fund it out of the discretionary funds available to the governor through the Commonwealth Opportunity Fund.
While 1,100 jobs is a significant number, the $3 billion investment by Micron is what elevates it as one of the Virginia's economic development deals. Micron's plans include an expansion of its high-tech "clean room" for manufacture of semiconductors and memory storage units that primarily will be used in automotive and industrial contexts.
Moret said the $3 billion figure demonstrates the level of long commitment Micron is making to northern Virginia.
About 1,200 people currently work at the Manassas plant. Mehrotra said the plant employs a combination of engineers with four-year degrees and technicians who have a scientific bent but whose post-secondary education comes through community colleges.