Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam stopped in Manassas Wednesday to announce a $3 billion expansion of Micron Technology's Manassas semiconductor plant, a project that is expected to add 1,100 new jobs by 2030.
Micron, a high-tech fixture in the City of Manassas since 2002, was said to be considering sites as far away as Singapore for its new facility, which Northam (D) said marks the largest manufacturing investment in the modern history of the commonwealth.
As part of the expansion, Micron Technology, one of the world’s largest semiconductor manufacturers, will establish a global research and development center in Manassas for “memory and storage solutions.” The company’s products are focused on the automotive, industrial and networking markets, according to a press release issued in conjunction with the Aug. 29 event.
The center will include laboratories, test equipment and approximately 100 product engineers focused on applications such as unmanned and autonomous automotive systems, the “Internet of Things” and other industrial and networking applications, the press release said.
Construction will begin immediately on the new facility, which is expected to be up and running by sometime in early 2020, said Micron’s President and CEO Sanjay Mehrotra.
In his remarks, Mehrotra called the Manassas plant “the world’s leading site for automotive and industrialized semiconductor memory products.”
Mehrotra noted that when the Manassas facility first opened in 2002, most of Micron’s products were used in personal computers. Now, he said, they are employed in a variety of applications with a focus on the automotive industry, which increasingly uses sensors and memory-storage products for driver-assistance technologies.
Today, two of every three vehicles include such Micron-made products, Mehrotra said.
“From the smartphone in your pocket, to massive data centers, to the smart speakers and connected devices in our home. In fact, every facet of our lives, including transportation, health care and entertainment are now employing advanced computer technologies because of the truly remarkable benefits they provide,” he said.
Micron is slated to receive a $70 million state grant for site preparation and facility costs for the new facility, which must be approved by the Virginia General Assembly during its 2019 session.
Northam, who was accompanied at the announcement by City of Manassas Mayor Hal Parrish (R), state Sen. Jeremy McPike, D-29th, state Del. Tim Hugo, R-40th, and other dignitaries, said Micron will add $1 billion to the value of Virginia’s exports when the expansion is complete.
The governor also noted the impact of Micron on Virginia’s existing technology sector.
“Talent attracts talent. The best research talent in the world wants to be near other talent, and we want that to be right here in Virginia. We’re proud that Micron will continue to benefit from the commonwealth’s unparalleled technology workforce, esteemed universities and world-class research and development by growing its presence here,” Northam said. “This project will significantly contribute to Virginia’s booming technology center with high-paying, quality jobs and robust anticipated growth.”
Micron Technologies already contributes about $4.7 million in tax revenue annually to the City of Manassas. That amount is expected to grow as the expansion moves forward, Parrish said in an interview after the announcement.
Parrish said Micron’s expansion is similar in scale to the city landing a major IBM facility in the 1960s, which was followed by other big names, including Lockheed Martin.
Parrish said the same elements that attracted those earlier players to the City of Manassas also played a role in Micron’s decision, including the city’s proximity to Washington, D.C., the Manassas Regional Airport and the city’s ample water supply via Lake Manassas.
Parrish also credited the city’s competitive tax rate on semiconductor manufacturing equipment, which at about 66 cents per $100 in assessed value is a fraction of the city’s rate for regular manufacturing property, taxed at $2.10 per $100 in assessed value. General business personal property, such as furniture and fixtures, is taxed at a rate of $3.60 per $100 in assessed value.
Like Prince William County, the City of Manassas also charges commercial entities just $1.25 per $100 in assessed value on computer equipment, a reduced rate that is thought to make the area attractive to data centers and other technology-focused entities.
“They literally could have made the decision to go anywhere, and they were talking to Singapore,” Parrish said of Micron. “So the significance of making this $3 billion announcement today, is that … their presence in Manassas and Northern Virginia, and indeed, the United States, will remain -- because it could have gone away.”
Micron, based in Boise, Idaho, also committed to contribute $1 million “over and above our typical giving” to accelerate the company’s investment in STEM education, Mehrotra said.
Mehrotra said the money would be focused on attracting more women and members of minority communities to the engineering and technical fields. The company, he said, already employs team members of more than 55 nationalities at its Manassas site.
“We have found that a diversity of voices is key to creating breakthrough innovation,” Mehrotra said.
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