State business leaders target semiconductor sector as area of manufacturing growth

by | Mar 19, 2024

Florida’s business leaders are targeting the semiconductor industry as a growth engine, leveraging existing infrastructure and federal incentives to expand the state’s economic footprint.

Florida’s business leadership has set its sights on the state’s semiconductor industry as a key driver of growth and economic development, as outlined in FloridaCommerce’s 2023 manufacturing report.

Home to several semiconductor manufacturing and research facilities, including Renesas Electronics in Palm Bay, the state currently produces components used in the construction of a wide range of applications, from defense to consumer electronics.

Existing infrastructure positions Florida as a burgeoning hub for the industry, compounded by an economic ripple effect culminating in each direct job in semiconductor manufacturing creating 5.7 additional jobs in related fields, according to the report.

“Computer and Electronics Product Manufacturing is an enormous area of opportunity for the state of Florida,” the report reads. “It encompasses semiconductor and related microelectronics product manufacturing as well as broader electronics and communications equipment manufacturing.”

Florida ranks as the fifth-largest state in the U.S. for employment in the semiconductor sector, providing 12,900 jobs. Data from the U.S. Department of Commerce Bureau of Economic Analysis notes that the GDP from Florida’s semiconductor manufacturing surpassed $3.7 billion in 2021.

On a global scale, the semiconductor industry is projected to reach a revenue of a trillion dollars by the decade’s end. Moreover, investment in new semiconductor and electronics manufacturing facilities across the United States has seen a significant increase, doubling over the recent years.

The report attributes recurring investments to the Florida’s growth, with federal incentives such as the CHIPS Act playing a role. Statewide, lawmakers have placed a focus on locations like NeoCity in Osceola County, which has seen over $150 million in investments aimed at bolstering semiconductor R&D and manufacturing capabilities.

“While other states (Texas, Arizona, and Ohio to name a few) are investing hundreds of millions of dollars in taxpayer dollars to directly fund semiconductor business expansion in their respective states, Florida’s strategy for this sector has been to support a strong, probusiness climate and to make strategic investments with key local partners to drive job growth and economic development,” said FloridaCommerce.

Last month, the National Science Foundation (NSF) designated the Central Florida Semiconductor Innovation Engine as a Regional Innovation Engine, opening the facility to tens of millions in funding across the next decade.

The federal initiative, part of the NSF’s broader Regional Innovation Engines program, provides grants to research hubs across the country to facilitate technological innovation. Each of the ten NSF Engines will initially receive up to $15 million for two years. The agency’s inaugural $150 million investment is being matched nearly two-to-one in commitments from state and local governments, other federal agencies, philanthropy, and private industry.

“Over the last eight years, Osceola County, Florida, had the foresight to make key strategic investments in semiconductor talent pipelines, develop industry partnerships with global leaders in the semiconductor industry, and build an unprecedented county-owned fabrication facility on a green industrial park with space to grow,” the NSF said upon granting the award.

In the coming years, regional engines that demonstrate progress toward well-defined milestones could potentially receive up to $160 million from NSF, according to the initiative’s guidelines. The funds are delivered through the “CHIPS and Science Act of 2022,” which authorized the NSF Engines program.

Stateside, Gov. Ron DeSantis in January recommended an allocation of $80 million for the University of Florida’s (UF) newly-announced Semiconductor Institute, aimed at providing coordination within Florida’s burgeoning semiconductor industry.

“We’re recommending $80 million for the University of Florida for a semiconductor Institute in conjunction with the University of Florida for capital costs, as well as operating costs,” said the governor. “That will not only be good for students, but you’re going to end up seeing businesses want to come and locate alongside that.”

According to the university, the semiconductor institute, which was announced in October, will serve as a hub for coordinating activities related to the development and manufacturing of microchips in Florida. It will also advise the state and promote public-private partnerships to support the industry in the state.


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