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Intel opens $3 billion Oregon factory expansion, announces recruitment programs

Oregon's top lawmakers and Intel said they're working together to make the state more competitive in the semiconductor sector.

HILLSBORO, Ore. — Intel is expanding its Oregon campus with the grand opening of a new factory in Hillsboro.

Intel's Dr. Ann Kelleher cut the ribbon Monday, alongside state and city leaders, to the sound of excited applause.

"Absolutely a great Oregon success story," Gov. Kate Brown said of Intel's Hillsboro campus.

Mod3 is Intel's $3 billion expansion to its D1X facility, adding 270,000 square feet of cleanroom space for the research, development and production of semiconductor technologies.

"Every aspect of human existence is becoming more digital," said Intel CEO Patrick Gelsinger. "The entire world benefits from the advancements that we do in Hillsboro."

Intel recently announced it is also adding factories in Ohio and Arizona, raising questions about the company's future in Oregon. However, Gelsinger said most of Intel's multibillion-dollar investments remain in Oregon, with nearly 22,000 employees and about 3,500 new ones added last year.

RELATED: Why did Intel pick Ohio instead of Oregon for $20 billion expansion?

Both Oregon senators Jeff Merkley and Ron Wyden attended Monday's grand opening ceremony and said they are working on federal tax incentives to keep high-paying semiconductor production jobs local.

"For Oregon and our country to be poised at the front of the line," Wyden said.

"We want the United States of America to be the world leader in producing the electronic chips here on planet Earth," Merkley added.

The new factory means Intel is hiring. It did not specify how many new jobs will result from Mod3, but said it is competing for labor.

"There are so many shortages," said Intel chief people officer Christy Pambianchi. "And we know some industries are at a standstill because they can't get enough chips."

Pambianchi announced two new recruitment programs to help bridge the labor gap.

The Quick Start Program will train and certify people over a two-week period to become entry-level semiconductor technicians.

She said that type of manufacturing job typically takes an Associate's Degree and can pay about $75,000 per year.

The second program is a partnership with various stakeholders to support the first Registered Youth Apprenticeship Program in Oregon. 

It is led by the Hillsboro School District, the City of Hillsboro, members of the Hillsboro Manufacturing Workforce Partnership, and a national workforce non-profit, Jobs for the Future. The youth apprenticeship model aims to boost local advanced manufacturing and high-tech sectors.

"The goal is to start it here and hopefully scale it across the state," Pambianchi said.

The pilot launch is targeted for this fall, with a plan to initially recruit 10-30 high school students for placement into manufacturing positions. Intel said half of student enrollment would include people from BIPOC and rural communities, women, students with disabilities and/or low-income individuals. 

This program plays into Intel's broader goal to diversify its workforce now and in the coming years.

Another initiative includes offering millions of dollars in grants to colleges and universities nationwide to incentivize pathways to the semiconductor field.

"To inspire students and families with access to STEAM education," described congresswoman Suzanne Bonamici at the event.

Oregon lawmakers recently started a new task force aimed at boosting semiconductor production in the state. They have their sights set on Intel and collaboration to create future expansion.

"I can't wait to see what we will achieve next," Gov. Brown said.

RELATED: STEM careers on display for girls at Beaverton's Valley Catholic Middle School

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