One year later: Semiconductor expansion successes, with no lands lost

1000 Friends of Oregon was pulled into one major land use debate this year: Did Oregon cities and towns have enough industrial land for companies to apply for CHIPS and Science Act funding to expand or create new operations? We won’t bury the lede. Yes, we did, and we still do. 

In 2022, the federal government passed the CHIPS and Science Act, declaring the need to spark domestic research, design, and production of semiconductor chip technology. The bill offered $280 billion to sway private companies to bring some of their facilities and jobs inside America’s borders. The Oregon Semiconductor Competitiveness Task Force later highlighted challenges and opportunities to build upon Oregon’s large role in the semiconductor industry, from direct subsidies and tax incentives to workforce development and education programs. 

In early 2023, 1000 Friends joined one of the biggest co­ordinated pushes by federal, state, and local elected officials along with multibillion-dollar companies. We guided Oregon’s Senate Bill 4 language and passage alongside thousands of Oregonians – including many of our members – toward a win-win. 

We've seen zero executive orders and compromised zero working acres, plus Oregon has had at least 15 competitive semiconductor applications and we've identified 10,000 suitable acres inside our UGBs.

We needn’t pit semiconductor expansions against other important pillars of our economy, like agriculture, forestry, or outdoor recreation and tourism. And, we didn’t need to sacrifice our quality of life or our natural resources in order to be a top competitor for the federal funding. 

Instead, we helped create a surgical, tailored approach in SB 4. We prioritized land inside existing urban growth boundaries with $10 million in land-readiness dollars.

And we set impactful boundaries on the governor’s executive authority: First, we pinned the governor’s authority to begin an urban growth boundary expansion to successful funding applications. Second, we created a sunset date on the authority, coming up fast on December 31, 2024, recognizing the urgency was tied to the funding applications. The cumulative effect is that UGB expansion authority for semiconductor applications has not been – and should not be – needed.

When we follow and strengthen Oregon’s land use system (like investing in land-readiness efforts to support our local government agencies), we realize that there are tools for greater shared economic prosperity, new partnerships, and a competitive perch for historic amounts of federal funding.  

This piece initially appeared in our 2023 Annual ReportTo receive a printed copy – and to be on the list for special mailings like early-bird invitations to our 50th anniversary celebration – become a member by making a gift today.