GlobalFoundries wins $30M in federal funding to develop next generation of microchips

Published: Oct. 17, 2022 at 5:40 PM EDT
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ESSEX JUNCTION, Vt. (WCAX) - Tens of millions of dollars in federal cash are spurring a new chapter for GlobalFoundries. The Essex Junction semiconductor plant is receiving a big boost to create the computer chips of tomorrow.

Monday, there was a celebration to highlight the investments in the chips of the future.

“I give you my word this is worth it because of the men and women that work here,” said Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vermont.

After being released from the hospital over the weekend, Leahy, now back in Vermont, highlighted a big investment in GlobalFoundries: $30 million to produce the next generation of microchips used in electric vehicles and in the buildout of 5G technology.

There’s also another $2 million for a semiconductor engineering workforce development program.

“We’ll continue to train, develop and continue to grow the world-class workforce that keeps this facility running 24/7, 365 days a year for the past 65 years,” said Thomas Caulfield, the CEO of GlobalFoundries.

GlobalFoundries bought the former IBM plant several years ago. The sprawling campus along the Winooski River uses an extraordinary amount of electricity-- 8% of the state’s total consumption-- and pays more for it compared to Global’s facility in Malta, New York.

A pending application in front of regulators would allow the FAB 9 to buy its own power from the grid.

Leaders say despite questions about Global’s commitment to Vermont, this investment means jobs are here to stay.

“They’ve invested $750 million into the site. Today’s announcement of another $30 million is another proof point in commitment to the site,” said Ken McAvey, the general manager of GlobalFoundries in Essex Junction.

Senator Leahy says he’s confident Global is staying in Vermont.

“The amount of money they put in here, they didn’t do it just to make us feel good,” Leahy said.

This type of congressional spending has been criticized, including by Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, for benefiting corporations.

Leaders with Global tell me that even though we’re seeing this investment earmarked right now, it could still be 5-10 years before we see buildout at the FAB 9 in Essex Junction.

The infusion of cash is one project in Vermont to receive big bucks from Leahy’s time as appropriations chair. This $30 million investment is separate from the federal CHIPS Act which was passed to boost American semiconductor research and production. The exact dollar amount coming Vermont’s way is unknown but it’s expected to be in the millions.

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