The city says it makes sense for a world-class research center to be based in what's become a leading microchip economy.

Hillsboro plans to build Oregon's first Semiconductor Center of Innovation Excellence, using funds secured through a Business Oregon planning grant. COURTESY PHOTO: CITY OF HILLSBORO  - An example of the kind of semiconductors that are made in Hillsboro. The city is one of the largest research hubs for new microchip technologies.

The announcement from the city says that it will work with partners like Oregon State University, Intel and the Oregon Business Council, to establish the center and the programs it will offer.

City officials say it makes a lot of sense for such a center to be built in Hillsboro, since it's already the heart of Oregon's Silicon Forest of microchip manufacturers and data centers.

"As a national center of semiconductor innovation, Hillsboro and Oregon are already home to one of the world's leading clusters of semiconductor makers," said Dan Dias, Hillsboro's economic and community development director, in the announcement.

He added that there are clear economic benefits to establishing such an innovation center in Hillsboro.

"With perhaps the world's top concentration of leading talent and expertise, it makes sense to work together to develop a pragmatic, academic, and industry-led applied research and development program to grow and maintain this advantage well into the future," Dias said.

Establishing centers like this is one prong of a larger Oregon Innovation Plan, which is aimed at creating more high-wage jobs and attracting new talent and capital to the state. The recently formed Semiconductor Competitiveness Taskforce, a statewide group that includes business executives and officials from the Hillsboro area, seeks to do this with the microchip industry specifically.

The end goal is to rebrand Oregon as "the place for innovation," according to Business Oregon's website, and to improve global competitiveness.

The federal government is also supporting that goal. The recently approved CHIPS Act, passed in Congress in July, bolsters investments in the U.S. semiconductor industry to try and better position the United States to compete with countries like China.

The CHIPS Act includes research grants, tax credits for chip manufacturing and an investment tax credit to encourage more semiconductor developments.

A lot of the funding approved from the CHIPS Act will pass through Oregon, and both lawmakers and diplomats have targeted Hillsboro in particular, with press tours to drum up support for the bill and the new economic framework it supports.

Back in April, U.S. Trade Representative Ambassador Katherine Tai toured Intel's campus in Hillsboro, alongside Oregon's two U.S. senators, Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley, to talk about the need for more semiconductor infrastructure and investments.

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