NC budget plan aims for $4.8B chip-making plant, 1,800 jobs


North Carolina is trying to lure a computer chip manufacturer to Chatham County that could spend billions of dollars and create nearly 2,000 jobs.

A state budget proposal released Tuesday by Republican legislative leaders would spend $112.5 million for a “qualifying project in Chatham County,” providing the state’s Economic Investment Committee awards a job development investment grant, or JDIG.

The budget doesn’t say what company legislators may have in mind, but it requires the business “manufacture computer chips at the project site, invest at least ($4.8 billion) in private funds, and create at least 1,800 eligible positions.”

A project of that size could need what’s known as a megasite, which is defined as a broad tract of land exceeding 1,000 acres and “prepared to suit the needs of a future large-scale plant,” according to UNC School of Government.

House Speaker Tim Moore and Senate leader Phil Berger declined to identify the chip maker they’re targeting or say when it is expected to arrive.

VinFast, a Vietnamese startup with plans to build a new line of electric cars, announced in March it would build its North American manufacturing plant at the 2,150-acre Triangle Innovation Point megasite in southern Chatham. The company said then it would introduce about 7,500 jobs in coming years.

Chatham hosts a second megasite, the Chatham-Siler City Advanced Manufacturing (CAM) Site, covering 1,802 acres along the county’s western border. It seems likely the unnamed chip manufacturer could settle there.

Almost half the money appropriated for the project is reserved for the City of Asheboro “for water infrastructure improvements needed to support” the company, according to the budget. Asheboro is about 20 miles west of Siler City and has already committed to fulfilling the CAM Site’s water needs.

Legislators would not comment on whether the budget’s unnamed computer chip manufacturer might settle at the CAM Site. But one requirement for a chip plant is a large supply of water, and the CAM Site has plans for a water system that could bring four million gallons of water a day to the site and dispose of four million gallons of wastewater a day.

The budget also calls for development of a “Megasite Readiness Program” that will expand North Carolina’s megasite inventory. The state has five, including Chatham’s two. Under the MRP, local governments could acquire “newly identified megasites” and secure funds to prepare them for advanced manufacturers. The goal is to “ensure the State’s ongoing competitiveness for major manufacturing opportunities, including the aerospace, automotive, clean energy, food processing, and life science industries.”

The budget could pass the legislature by Saturday. Gov. Roy Cooper has not said if he’ll sign it.

Will it work out this time?

Landing a chip maker has long been high on the legislature’s priority list.

The state’s last budget, passed in late 2021, earmarked a $34 million contribution for Sanford’s $270 million water plant expansion. The infrastructure enhancement would have helped to support a possible semiconductor chip manufacturing project at the TIP site, which is just north of Sanford.

Several sources told The News & Observer a chip maker was eyeing Chatham County at the time. But negotiations fell through. The project could have come with a $40 billion investment in the state, The N&O reported.

While several major manufacturers have recently announced plans to build in North Carolina — including VinFast, Toyota and Boom Supersonic — few can guarantee the universal demand of a chip manufacturer. An ongoing semiconductor shortage is stifling global industries from auto manufacturing to consumer electronics. Many companies, hoping to capitalize on historic demand, are committing to multi-billion dollar expansions.

Micron, an Idaho-based chip maker, said in October, for example, that it hopes to invest $150 billion in manufacturing, research and development in the U.S. in coming years. Erica Rodriguez Pompen, a spokeswoman for Micron, previously told The N&O that Micron is evaluating sites across the world for investment.

In September, Intel began construction on a $20 billion chip plant in Arizona, and Samsung is building a $17 billion chip plant outside of Austin, Texas.

For more North Carolina government and politics news, listen to the Under the Dome politics podcast from The News & Observer and the NC Insider. You can find it at or wherever you get your podcasts.

This story was originally published June 28, 2022 11:08 PM.

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Lars Dolder is editor of The News & Observer’s Insider, a state government news service. He oversees the product’s exclusive content and works with The N&O’s politics desk on investigative projects. He previously worked on The N&O’s business desk covering retail, technology and innovation.


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