PHOENIX (AP) — A Taiwanese microchip manufacturer building its first U.S. plant in Arizona has agreed to more scrutiny from the state when it comes to the safety of construction workers, Gov. Katie Hobbs said Friday.
At a news conference held against the backdrop of ongoing construction at a site in north Phoenix, Hobbs announced that the Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. facility and the state have signed a voluntary protection program.
"Under this agreement, TSMC will adhere to requirements higher than those at the federal level," the Democratic governor said. "These additional safety measures include greater transparency for workers, closer oversight from the Arizona Division of Occupational Safety and Health and increased training for foremen and all hands."
The governor said construction safety standards should match the quality of the highly publicized project that has been the source of much pride.
Democratic President Joe Biden visited the site in December, praising it as a demonstration of how his policies are fostering job growth. Biden has staked his legacy in large part on major investments in technology and infrastructure that were approved by Congress along bipartisan lines.
The plant’s construction was first announced in 2020 during Donald Trump’s presidency. At the time, TSMC announced it’s investing a total of $40 billion over eight years in Arizona and would construct a second plant. Then-Republican Gov. Doug Ducey said the factory would create more than 1,600 new high-tech jobs in the state.
Construction started in 2021 on more than 1,100 acres (445 hectares) of land. The plant is slated to be in full production in 2024. The facility will utilize TSMC’s 5-nanometer technology for semiconductor wafer fabrication and have the capacity to produce 20,000 wafers per month.
The company has received some criticism for bringing in some workers from Taiwan to help with construction. But TSMC has said the jobs of thousands of U.S. workers already on site will not be affected.
Hobbs on Friday also announced the launch of a new initiative to double the number of registered construction and trade apprentices in Arizona over the next three years.