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News / Business / Clark County Business

$300,000 grant will expand reach of Camas operations of chipmaker Analog Devices

Columbia River Economic Development Council awarded money to support company

By Sarah Wolf, Columbian staff writer
Published: June 25, 2024, 6:05am

The Washington Economic Development Strategic Fund awarded $300,000 to the Columbia River Economic Development Council to support the Camas operations of chipmaker Analog Devices.

Congress passed the $280 billion CHIPS and Sciences Act in the summer of 2022, meant to boost domestic semiconductor manufacturing. Companies seeking CHIPS funding must also get matching state funds, according to the Washington Department of Commerce.

“The grant is about more than the funding,” said Mike Fong, Washington’s commerce director. “It is emblematic of our commitment to growing the semiconductor industry and good jobs that come with it here in Washington state.”

Because of state law, grants can’t be awarded directly to private companies. So the funding was awarded through the CREDC, a nonprofit that works to attract and boost local businesses.

Massachusetts-based Analog has expanded its operations in Camas in recent years. A predecessor company, Linear Technology, set up the Camas wafer fab in the 1990s, where Analog employees make analog integrated circuits used in a variety of electrical devices. The new funding will go to train Analog’s workforce to use more modern tools and processes.

Rebecca Diaz, vice president of finance and treasurer at Analog, said the grant will “help expand our reach in the region.”

High tech firms have long called Clark County home. Computer and printer manufacturer HP, silicon wafer manufacturer Shin-Etsu Handotai and ceramics manufacturer Kyocera all established operations here in the 1970s and 1980s.

The region’s high-tech ecosystem has expanded since then, welcoming several chip manufacturers including TSMC, ADI and nLIGHT — all located in Camas.

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At last count, about 3,300 people worked in electronics manufacturing here, according to the Washington Employment Security Department.

Clark County, however, is just a part of the metro area’s broader tech environment, cemented with the creation of Portland’s Tektronix in the 1940s. Silicon chip manufacturer Intel employs about 22,000 people on the metro area’s west side, making it one of Oregon’s largest employers.

The CHIPS and Sciences legislation was meant to spur growth among silicon chip manufacturing domestically, which Sen. Maria Cantwell previously said was in a slump. Cantwell, D-Wash., chairs the U.S. Senate’s Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee.

“The Pacific Northwest wants to be the leaders in the production of semiconductors and advanced chip manufacturing, and Camas and Clark County are leading the way,” Cantwell said Monday. “This new $300,000 workforce development investment shows that our region is dedicated to bringing semiconductor production back to the United States.”

The U.S. manufactures just 12 percent of the world’s microchips, according to the Council on Foreign Relations. Thirty years ago, it manufactured 37 percent.

Shin-Etsu Handotai’s Vancouver operation, SEH America, announced plans to expand shortly after the passage of the CHIPS legislation, though it’s unclear if the company has or will actually receive federal funding. SEH makes silicon wafers that companies such as Intel turn into microchips.

TSMC is expecting to receive $6.6 billion in CHIPS funding, according to the U.S. Department of Commerce. However, that money is intended for its Arizona operation.

CREDC President and CEO Jen Baker said her organization is proud of the role it has played in bringing reinvestment to Southwest Washington’s semiconductor industry.

“Our work educating state and national-level policymakers on the global chips industry continues to shape local opportunity,” Baker said.