MALTA — GlobalFoundries has committed to buying roughly 800 acres for future expansion near its Malta computer chip factory.
The expansion and the land purchase itself are conditioned on GlobalFoundries receiving state and federal government assistance and securing customer support.
With a worldwide shortage of computer chips hampering manufacturers, there would seem to be little question about customer support. Government support has been slow to materialize, though, as the House and Senate debate a plan to boost the U.S. semiconductor industry with billions in direct subsidies.
The land purchase would entail the remaining portion of the Luther Forest Technology Campus. It’s the latest step in the expansion announced in July 2021, when GlobalFoundries said it would build another factory — Fab 8.2 — near its Fab 8 semiconductor plant.
Fab 8 represents a more than $15 billion investment since groundbreaking in 2009 and is now the workplace for roughly 3,000 people. A $1 billion expansion of Fab 8 was announced at the same time as plans for Fab 8.2 were revealed.
Fab 8 was built with $1.37 billion in state subsidies and millions more in tax breaks and infrastructure upgrades.
GlobalFoundries is looking for another commitment of taxpayer money for this next stage. This is necessary, company executives have said, because other countries subsidize their own semiconductor industries, recognizing their strategic value to a nation’s economy and security.
GlobalFoundries said this week that preliminary site work and permitting are underway for the expansion, but the schedule for work actually being performed will depend on the right economic model — customer demand, public subsidies, company strategy — lining up.
It is optimistic that the federal CHIPS Act will be approved soon, providing financial support for the project.