On Dec. 6, President Joe Biden gave a speech at Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company’s (TSMC) construction site in North Phoenix to celebrate the announcement of the company’s second chip plant in Arizona, raising its overall investment to $40 billion — the largest foreign investment in the state’s history. In his remarks, Biden named two local business owners who’ve benefitted from the president’s focus on infrastructure and manufacturing.
“Over 30 years ago, America had more than 30% of global chip production. Then something happened,” Biden says. “America manufacturing — the backbone of our economy — began to get hollowed out. Companies moved jobs overseas. Today, we’re down to producing only around 10% of the world’s chips, despite leading the world in research to design and new chip technologies. But folks, where is it written that America can’t lead the world once again in manufacturing?”
In Senator Mark Kelly’s remarks, he recalled speaking with an Arizona woman who enrolled in a 10-day semiconductor technician program at a local community college, after which she secured a job in the field.
“For folks who don’t have a four-year degree, they will now be able to raise a family on that salary as a semiconductor manufacturing technician,” he says. “We’re on the road to a new future where the best chips in the world are made from start to finish right here in America. And that road runs through the state of Arizona.”
When both fabs are complete, the facilities will produce more than 600,000 wafers a year, representing $10 billion in revenue. The massive project already employs 10,000 construction workers, which will increase to 21,000 during phase two. An additional 13,000 high paying high-tech jobs, including the 4,500 direct TSMC employees, are expected to be created, including thousands more from the approximately 40 supply companies slated to locate near the facility.
Mark Liu, chairman of TSMC, says the company will be good stewards of Arizona’s most precious resource. “This fab’s main water source will be recycled water. We are in the planning stage for an on-site industrial water reclamation plant, that, when finished, will allow the site to have near zero liquid discharge.”
Executives from TSMC’s customer base also spoke at the event, including NVIDIA CEO Jensen Huang, AMD CEO Lisa Su, and Apple CEO Tim Cook.
“Over the past several years, the progress we’ve made with Apple silicon has transformed our devices. It has unlocked new levels of performance for our users, enabling them to do things they could never do before,” Cook says. “And now, thanks to the hard work of so many people, these chips can be proudly stamped ‘Made in America.’”
Biden highlights locals
During Biden’s speech, he mentioned Patricia McKinley, the owner of a small trucking company called Khavl Transport.
“[McKinley] has five employees. The pandemic hit her company hard,” Biden says. “But these new infrastructure projects for Arizona mean more work for her and her team — a chance to grow her business and secure her future.”
The president also spoke about Paul Sarzoza, president and CEO of Verde Clean Services, whose locally owned facility services business recently took on TSMC as a client. Verde currently has 150 employees and expects to grow to 300 employees in the next 12 months. Sarzoza’s background in facility management for semiconductor businesses gave the company an edge when trying to win the TSMC contract.
“Working in a critical environment is much different than regular janitorial work from the protocol just for getting into the building to the materials that are utilized. Even the vacuum system is different.,” Sarzoza explains. “As opposed to just wearing a t-shirt for work, employees are in a full bunny suit from head to toe.”
Amber Reyna, chief revenue officer for Verde Clean Services, adds that her and Sarzoza were ecstatic when the company was selected by TSMC for the job. “Our largest competitor was a $6 billion dollar company. We do $6 million in annual revenue,” Reyna says. “We’re a local, minority-owned business with Hispanic and female leadership up against these huge international companies. It was a true David and Goliath story.”
Sarzoza adds that others thought Verde had no chance to take on such a consequential client. But his past, from picking produce in his youth to being a first-generation college graduate from NAU on a football scholarship, instilled in him the value of perseverance and a strong work ethic.
“That’s who this is all about – folks like Patricia and Paul,” Biden says. “They are why I am unapologetic about fighting for American workers – and getting this economy to work for working people.”