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State on Finalist List for Sematech Site

November 20, 1987|Associated Press

SANTA CLARA, Calif. — Twelve states were named finalists Thursday in the hotly contested bidding for a semiconductor manufacturing research operation with an annual budget of $250 million, to be funded by private industry and government.

Sematech, which had been considering 34 states as its future home, narrowed the field to Arizona, California, Colorado, Florida, Massachusetts, Missouri, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Oregon, Texas and Wisconsin.

The states have until Dec. 1 to supply any last-minute information, and a California official said he expected the organization to make its choice in mid-December.

Sematech also announced it would award special research grants to universities around the country and would invite federal Department of Energy national laboratories to share in research and development.

The new facility is expected to employ 700 to 800 workers and be an economic boon to the state that gets it. Half the funding is to come from industry and half from a combination of federal, state and local governments.

Sematech's goal is to achieve world leadership in semiconductor manufacturing by 1993, the organization said.

Big-Name Backers

Sematech stands for Semiconductor Manufacturing Technology. The operation will focus on upgrading the equipment and processes that produce chips, rather than the designs of the chips themselves.

Semiconductors are the tiny squares of electronic circuitry that form the heart of most modern technology, from computers to phone switches to consumer electronics and weaponry.

Among the backers of Sematech are computer makers, such as International Business Machines Corp., chip makers, including Texas Instruments Inc., and makers of chip-making equipment, such as Perkin-Elmer Corp.

The chairman of the site selection committee, Sanford L. Kane, is a vice president of IBM.

Officials of the finalist states touted their chances Thursday.

"I don't think you can call it an inside track, but I think California is in a strong position," said California state Department of Commerce spokesman Warren Rashleigh. "And being the leader in the country in semiconductor manufacturing, it makes sense to us to have it here."

"The ripple effect to other segments of the economy is very important," he said. "It probably will mean more than 10,000 new jobs over a five-year period and an addition of about $55 million in tax revenues."

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