Blog | 3 min read
Greater Richmond eyes return to semiconductor manufacturing
November 16, 2023
Blog | 3 min read
November 16, 2023
Greater Richmond, a proven advanced manufacturing hub with 450 facilities in the region, shows promising growth with its return to semiconductors. Sometimes referred to as integrated circuits or microchips, semiconductor factories make compounds from pure elements that help make electronic devices smaller, faster and more reliable. As these devices are the new standard in industries across the board, onshoring developments in semiconductor technology are more important than ever.
Greater Richmond is no stranger to semiconductors. In 1998, Henrico County welcomed White Oak Semiconductor (later renamed Qimonda), a plant that manufactured memory chips. With employment at 1,500, German-based Qimonda was the single largest employer of graduates from Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU) College of Engineering. The Great Recession led to the closing of Qimonda in 2009 as semiconductors across the nation moved overseas.
Many manufacturing companies benefit from locating in Greater Richmond thanks to its mid-Atlantic location along the East Coast, which aids in supply chain options and component sourcing. The high-quality connectivity, public transit and commuting systems help connect the region to more than 45 percent of the U.S. population within a day’s delivery drive.
After 15 years, semiconductor manufacturers can return to Greater Richmond to reap several new business advantages.
With the passing of the CHIPS and Science Act – a bill drafted by Virginia’s Sen. Mark Warner and signed by President Joe Biden granting $52 billion to the R&D and manufacturing of U.S. semiconductors – VCU plans to use the Virginia Microelectronics Center, located on campus, to create innovative new technology. The 8,000 sq.ft. facility focuses on the fabrication and development of micro and nano devices and state-of-the-art material creation.
VCU students will be provided with opportunities to expand on the knowledge and skills needed in advanced manufacturing and R&D opportunities. Along with four other universities plus community college partners across the state, VCU participates with the Virginia Alliance for Semiconductor Technology, which will provide access to the space, equipment and training needed to boost the state’s semiconductor and nanotechnology industries.
Plus, the construction of a mega site to accommodate chip manufacturing is underway. Upper Magnolia Green Technology Park in Chesterfield County could further expand on Greater Richmond’s return to semiconductor manufacturing. A recent $25 million grant will cover the costs of a pad site for a semiconductor plant on 1,000 acres.
These assets and others around the region help to attract companies to Greater Richmond along with the region’s business advantages.
Greater Richmond has a strong pro-business climate that offers a low cost for business operations, an acclaimed business environment and opportunities for sustainable operations. In addition, Virginia ranked #1 in the nation for Customized Workforce Training by Business Facilities magazine, which provides unique onboarding capabilities to newly relocated or expanding companies.
There is a talented workforce specializing in semiconductors and other manufacturing operations thanks to VCU’s electrical and computer engineering department, plus others around the region. As the region’s 33,000-person manufacturing workforce grows, so will the benefits for new semiconductor companies.