Senator says bill luring semiconductor plant to Nebraska would have biggest economic impact ‘since corn’

By: - January 19, 2023 8:16 pm

(Getty Images)

LINCOLN — Nebraska needs to tap into the federal push to increase domestic manufacturing of semiconductors, an effort that could create more than 4,700 jobs paying an average of $84,500 per year, State Sen. Mike McDonnell of Omaha said Thursday.

This week, McDonnell introduced Legislative Bill 616, which would authorize the state to match any federal funds that semiconductor manufacturers locating in Nebraska obtain under the federal CHIPS for America Act.

“This legislation has the potential to have the biggest economic impact to the State of Nebraska since corn,” McDonnell said.

State Sen. Mike McDonnell of Omaha
(Courtesy of Unicameral Information Office)

That would be a big impact — Nebraska is traditionally the third-largest corn-producing state in the union, generating an estimated $10 billion from corn production in 2021.

The federal CHIPS act, signed into law by President Joe Biden in August, allocated $54.2 billion to help build chip plants in the U.S., to rebuild an industry that had fled overseas.

Already, some plants are in the works, including a $40 billion facility in upstate New York planned by Micron Technologies, a company pursued by Nebraska in the mid-1990s until it decided to locate in Utah.

In response, several states, including Michigan, Tennessee and Ohio, have passed, or are in the process of passing, financial incentives to lure factories to their states.

Passing incentives here, McDonnell said, would position Nebraska as a potential site for a semiconductor plant and related businesses.

The University of Nebraska at Omaha College of Business Administration estimated that such a facility would generate up to 4,735 high-paying jobs.

UNO projected that nine companies would locate in the state, investing $5.5 billion in new facilities and in the production and operation of semiconductor manufacturing. The ongoing impact of such manufacturing would add $2.7 billion to Nebraska’s gross domestic product, the university estimated.

LB 617, dubbed the Creating Helpful Incentives to Produce Semiconductors (CHIPS) Act, calls for the allocation of $20 million in state funds to help train workers for the semiconductor industry in a collaboration between Metro Community College and UNO.

McDonnell has been working with a Woburn, Massachusetts, company, Nantero Inc., that is interested in situating a plant in Nebraska. That company’s director has ties to Nebraska but was not immediately available for comment Thursday evening.

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Paul Hammel
Paul Hammel

Senior Reporter Paul Hammel has covered the Nebraska Legislature and Nebraska state government for decades. He started his career reporting for the Omaha Sun and later, editing the Papillion Times group in suburban Omaha. He joined the Lincoln Journal-Star as a sports enterprise reporter, and then a roving reporter covering southeast Nebraska. In 1990, he was hired by the Omaha World-Herald as a legislative reporter. Later, for 15 years, he roamed the state covering all kinds of news and feature stories. In the past decade, he served as chief of the Lincoln Bureau and enterprise reporter. Paul has won awards for reporting from Great Plains Journalism, the Associated Press, Nebraska Newspaper Association and Suburban Newspapers of America. A native of Ralston, Nebraska, he is vice president of the John G. Neihardt Foundation, a member of the Nebraska Hop Growers and a volunteer caretaker of Irvingdale Park in Lincoln.