EMP Shield plans $1.9B chip plant in Burlington, Kansas

Dive Brief:

  • EMP Shield, a manufacturer of surge protectors that safeguard electronics from lightning and electromagnetic pulses, plans to invest $1.9 billion in a computer chip manufacturing facility in Burlington, Kanas, according to the office of Kansas Gov. Laura Kelly.
  • The Burlington, Kansas-based manufacturing company plans to build four production lines and produce thousands of chips per week. The facility will sit on a 300-acre campus in Burlington’s Silicon Prairie Industrial Park, about 100 miles southwest of Kansas City.
  • The project will use state support to apply for CHIPS Act funding, said Kelly. The legislation called for every aspect of computer chip production to be brought back to the United States, particularly in the Midwest.

Dive Insight:

The $1.9 billion facility is the latest project to chase CHIPS Act funding to bring chip production back to the United States. Intel is building a $20 billion facility in Licking County, Ohio, while Micron announced a $15 billion chip fab in Boise, Idaho. 

In addition to the availability of federal funds, continued demand from aerospace, electric vehicles and the military are spurring more projects to be built, said Mark Granahan, CEO of iDEAL Semiconductor, a Bethlehem, Pennsylvania-based fabless semiconductor company.

“We as a country need more capability and capacity from a semiconductor perspective, because over the course of decades we’ve looked over to the Far East. In doing so, we lost some of our competitive edge,” said Granahan. “The CHIPS Act will move us into a more competitive position.”

The push to onshore the manufacturing of sensitive electronics components comes as tensions between China and the U.S. have escalated further, after the Air Force shot down a Chinese spy balloon in early February that had traversed much of the country. 

“Right now, computer chips — the technology that powers everything from cars to smartphones to broadband — are mostly made in China. That’s a problem,” said Kelly in a statement. “It means that both our national defense systems and the goods and services Americans rely upon are vulnerable to the whims of the Chinese Communist Party. And it means that if there’s a computer chip shortage — like we’re experiencing right now — we have no control as prices skyrocket.”

It’s the second major Kansas semiconductor project to be unveiled in February, with assembler Integra Technologies recently announcing a $1.8 billion facility in Wichita. That project, which will serve as the company’s headquarters, totals 1 million square feet and is also in line for federal money. 

“Like Integra, EMP Shield will now use our support through various incentive programs to apply for federal CHIPS funds to round out the resources it needs to complete this expansion,” said Kelly.

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