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SkyWater Technology announces plan for a $1.8 billion semiconductor plant in West Lafayette

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Governor Holcomb speaks during Wednesday's announcement about a new semiconductor production facility in West Lafayette (WBAA News/Ben Thorp)

State and local officials gathered at Purdue University Wednesday to announce plans for a $1.8 billion semiconductor plant in West Lafayette.

Semiconductor chips are used in numerous electronic devices, including phones, TVs, and even cars. SkyWater Technology, a Minnesota-based semiconductor manufacturer, is expected to bring some 750 high-paying jobs to the region.

Thomas Sonderman is the CEO of SkyWater. He said funding for the project will come, in part, from federal legislation aimed at building more semiconductor facilities in the U.S. Sonderman said if that legislation fails to pass, it won’t be a dealbreaker.

“I think it’s a gating item. Obviously, we want it to pass,” he said. “What it does is accelerate everything.”

Sonderman said SkyWater is committed to the region because of the talent pipeline at Purdue, which recently announced it will host a semiconductor degree program.

“We would have probably still did it without the program, honestly, but that was a huge catalyst,” he said.

The U.S. relies heavily on foreign semiconductor chip manufacturers - something which has led to supply chain issues. Chip manufacturers have urged Congress to spend billions of dollars to bring semiconductor facilities to the U.S.

U.S. Senator Todd Young, a supporter of the legislation, said the multi-billion dollar investment included in the bill is essential.

“It’s imperative for the success of this announcement and future deals to follow that we get this legislation passed and signed into law,” he said.

The bill is currently expected to get a vote in the U.S. Senate sometime in the next two weeks.

Purdue President Mitch Daniels said it would be impossible to engage in hyperbole about the importance of the investment.

“This is, I say without much fear of contradiction, one of the biggest days in Purdue history, and it is much more than that,” he said.

Gov. Eric Holcomb said the state and university are “committed partners” in making the semiconductor facility successful.

“Today truly sets in motion that here in Indiana we’re not predicting the future, we’re defining it,” he said.

SkyWater executives say the facility could take anywhere roughly three years to come online.