On Dec. 4, ASM announced a $300 million project that moves its Phoenix-based North American headquarters — which opened in 1976 and currently employs more than 800 people — to Scottsdale. The semiconductor supplier’s new 250,000-square-foot facility will create 500 high-paying jobs and is expected to finish construction in three years. At completion, ASM’s North American headquarters will serve multiple functions, including a new research and development lab, a global training center, and supply chain and manufacturing engineering. 

“This is a momentous occasion for Arizona’s advanced manufacturing ecosystem,” says Gov. Katie Hobbs. “Arizona is quickly becoming a global epicenter for sustainable technologies, including electric vehicles, solar energy, batteries and, of course, semiconductors. The influx of companies coming to the state demonstrates the modern and unique business environment that Arizona offers. Today’s announcement and ASM’s renewed investment in our state is further proof of that.”

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Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte adds that semiconductor technology is an essential enabler for the technologies needed to meet worldwide issues such as climate change and developing green energy. 

“With those challenges, fueled by current geopolitical tensions, we have every reason to work together on greater strategic autonomy and stronger supply chains,” he says. “The Netherlands has a unique position in the semiconductor value chain and that position comes with, I believe, a key responsibility to build strong relationships with countries and companies that share the same values — countries like the U.S. and companies like ASM. The friendship between the Netherlands and the U.S. is not just an alliance between two countries, but this friendship is founded on strong ties between people and companies.”

ASM’s equipment is crucial for the semiconductor integrated-circuit chips required for electronics used both by consumers and businesses. Specifically, the company focuses on the deposition of thin films by designing, manufacturing, selling and servicing tools to supply customers in semiconductor fabs.

One piece of equipment sold by ASM facilitates a process known as atomic layer deposition, which makes it possible to create ultra-thin, yet uniform films, and is considered an enabling technology for next generation chip technologies, such as two-nanometer logic and foundry devices. ASM is the leading supplier of single-wafer atomic layer deposition equipment with a global market share of more than 55%.

The company states that sustainability is a cornerstone of its global business practices and will continue to be a priority for its new headquarters, with plans to pursue LEED rating for the facility. ASM is also focusing on the responsible use of water, with a target of using more than 80% reclaimed water in the new facility. According to the company’s press release, ASM’s current headquarters in Phoenix has reduced its absolute water use by 60% from 2017 to 2022, while experiencing substantial growth in business activities during that period.

ASM is also partnering with The Nature Conservancy on a program to improve irrigation systems in the Verde Valley and bolster the resiliency of the Verde River, which is a critical water source for Greater Phoenix. The company will invest in the effort over three years, starting with a $130,000 investment in year one. 

Conducive to semiconductors

The Grand Canyon State is growing an international reputation as the “Silicon Desert” as TSMC and Intel invest tens of billions in Greater Phoenix, attracting many more companies in the semiconductor supply chain. 

“Arizona is the state driving U.S. semiconductor industry growth,” Hobbs says. “With more than 32 semiconductor expansions in the state in less than two years, Arizona has become the world’s go-to destination for investment. That strengthens U.S. supply chains, brings billions to our state and, most importantly, creates thousands of good paying jobs for everyday Arizonans.”

Jonathan Keyser, founder and managing partner of Keyser Commercial Real Estate, has represented ASM for many years, inking deals across the country for the company. Keyser was the site selector, broker and project manager for ASM’s new North American headquarters. 

“Part of why ASM chose [the location in Scottsdale] is because they wanted to be essentially equidistant between Intel and TSMC,” he explains. “It’s also a flagship location for them as their North American headquarters, so they wanted it to be in a prominent and impressive location to make a statement with the facility.”

From his dealings with many semiconductor companies over the years, Keyser notes that Arizona has many attributes that those business require: reliable power, access to good telecommunications infrastructure, talent and a growing ecosystem of suppliers, clients and partners. 

“Intel and ASM were early pioneers in Arizona, so they deserve credit, but when the premier semiconductor company in the world decided to put their most advanced chip manufacturing plant in Arizona, that sets the tone. [TSMC] said, ‘This is where we’re making our investment’ and everyone else is swarming behind them,” he explains. “I’ve done a lot of specialization in semiconductor work, and I’ve never been busier.” 

When Keyser was at the Global Semiconductor Alliance Leadership Summit in Germany last summer, he says Arizona was a frequent topic of conversation. 

“I was there in Germany, talking with international entities, and Arizona was on the tip of everybody’s tongue,” he concludes. “When we look back 20 years from now, TSMC locating here is going to be seen as a turning point for Arizona. I think people will be stunned at how much it affects our growth in the coming decades.”