Gabriel Dillard

published on May 13, 2024 - 1:27 PM
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When it comes to economic development, aspiring to create something new is a noble goal but it’s important to manage expectations.

Last year, when a Wyoming-based semiconductor and energy storage company received a $15 million state grant to relocate its headquarters to Fresno, many saw it as a sign that the Central Valley had a part in making the computer chips that power our modern world.

More than $150 billion available from the federal government through the CHIPS and Science Act is also a nice sweetener.

There is one key reason why semiconductors will not be made in the Central Valley, and it probably won’t surprise you.

Fresno Mayor Dyer at last week’s State of the City event said water was a key barrier keeping semiconductor manufacturing facilities, or fabs, from operating here. They can use up to 4.8 million gallons per day.

So where does that leave the Central Valley in the chip race?  Will Oliver, president and CEO of the Fresno County Economic Development Corp., expanded on that in an Executive Profile feature in the April 12 edition of The Business Journal.

“While semiconductor fabrication facilities could be a future possibility, it’s more likely we’ll first see growth in ancillary industries. For every job a fab creates, five more are needed in supporting industries like equipment manufacturing, packaging and testing, or component suppliers. Fresno County’s strategic location, proximity to ports, and available workforce give us a competitive advantage. With the U.S. semiconductor industry expected to double in growth to $1 trillion by 2030, I believe there are opportunities for Fresno County, especially within our manufacturing sector, which has outpaced the state and nation in growth.”

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