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News / Business / Clark County Business

SEH America plans for growth, expansion in Vancouver, around the world

Semiconductor wafer supplier aims to meet rising global demand

By Sarah Wolf, Columbian staff writer
Published: August 16, 2022, 6:04am

SEH America expects to grow to meet the increasing demand for its silicon wafers around the world, the company said Monday.

Documents made public last week showed that SEH is proposing a 300,000-square-foot expansion on its campus on Northeast 112th Avenue in east Vancouver. The proposed “Super X” expansion would be a new building, making room for more crystal growing, wafering, polishing and cleaning.

“SEH America has the intention to be prepared for growth in silicon wafer demand, to meet the needs of our worldwide customers in the growing semiconductor market, particularly the 300 mm wafer diameter,” said Neil Weaver, vice president of product development and applications at SEH America Inc.

SEH America is a subsidiary of Shin-Etsu Handotai Ltd., a Japanese company that makes silicon wafers for the semiconductor industry. The Vancouver operation makes 300 mm wafers, a variety that is especially sought after around the world.

Semiconductor wafer suppliers like SEH America have seen rising revenues as prices for wafers have climbed. A recent study from Transparency Market Research projects the global silicon wafer market to exceed $13.2 billion in value by 2031.

“This expansion is great news for Washington state and for manufacturers and consumers across the country who depend on semiconductors every day, for everything from cars to tractors to phones and computers,” Sen. Maria Cantwell, D-Wash., chair of the U.S. Senate’s Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee, told The Columbian last week.

Weaver said that with investment from U.S. customers and support from the CHIPS Act, the company will be ready for increased demand.

When we passed the CHIPS and Science Act, this is exactly what we intended to see — more companies deciding to invest in America,” Cantwell said last week. “This investment will create even more focus on Washington state and its growing role in strengthening this critical industry.”

SEH America declined to offer further details about the Super X project, including timing, budget and the number of jobs it will create.

“We have been actively hiring for the current operations at SEH America, and we will continue to look for new employees to fill many interesting job positions now and in the future,” Weaver added.

Southwest Washington is home to a number of electronics manufacturers.

As of 2021, there was an average of 3,200 people employed in computer equipment and manufacturing in Clark County.

In 2011, there were a little more than 2,800 people working locally in that sector.

“Growth has been minimal over the last 10 years,” said Jim Vleming, a regional economist with Washington’s Employment Security Department.

SEH America employs 547 people in North America, according to ZoomInfo.

“Historically, the Greater Portland region has hosted 6.5 times the concentration of hardware engineers and 16 times the semiconductor processor workforce as compared to the national average” Jennifer Baker, president of the Columbia River Economic Development Council in Vancouver, said in an email Monday. “This baseline of skilled employees invites the opportunity for growth and expansion for local high-tech companies.”