GlobalFoundries has submitted plans to build additional utility buildings to support a planned $2 billion expansion of the cleanroom space at its Fab 8 computer chip plant.
Detailed plans submitted to the towns of Malta and Stillwater seek approval to construct new central utility and backup power unit buildings, and expanded on-site parking.
GlobalFoundries spokesman Travis Bullard said the company’s directors aren’t yet committed to the 90,000-square-foot cleanroom expansion, but the company would like to start the utility construction work in July and finish it by the end of the year.
“We require the additional utilities to support the added manufacturing,” Bullard said following a community meeting at Fab 8 on Thursday.
The 223-acre GlobalFoundries site straddles the line between the towns. The new utility buildings will be located in Malta, but some of the expanded parking will be in Stillwater. Work will need approvals from the respective town planning boards, and the company hopes they act in July.
“We want to get our site plan approvals so we are ready to go,” Bullard said.
The company’s expansion proposal is not unexpected. When GlobalFoundries was building the factory shell in 2010, it built a 210,000-square-foot manufacturing cleanroom, and 90,000 square feet of attached space was left empty but could be turned into cleanroom if the company decided to expand.
The documents filed this week lay the groundwork for that expansion, which Bullard said would mean an additional 300 permanent jobs and 900 temporary construction jobs. When completed, it would increase GlobalFoundries’ total investment in Malta and Stillwater from $4.6 billion to $6.9 billion.
The company, which is still doing manufacturing testing in the first cleanroom, anticipates needing the additional space at some point, said David James, Fab 8 facilities manager.
“We have a lot of customers interested in what we are doing here in Malta,” James said.
GlobalFoundries currently has 1,450 on-site employees and expects to have 1,600 to 1,800 on board by the end of the year, Bullard said. A job fair for engineers and technicians took place within the plant Thursday at the same time the community meeting was being held in another building.
“We’re still doing a lot of hiring between now and the end of the year and beyond,” Bullard said.
All the manufacturing tools are now installed in the first section of cleanroom and are being tested.
“We have to run products and make sure they’re at the appropriate quality and yield levels so we can sell to customers,” James said.
Commercial shipments are scheduled to start this fall.
Since last summer, there have been neighbor complaints about off-site noise from the backup power building at Fab 8. James said the most recent noise-reduction project on the building was finished last week and some neighbors — though not all — say the noise has diminished.