April 20, 2024

Florida expanding semiconductor manufacturing capabilities with $28M in grants

(The Center Square) — In another push to reduce reliance on China and other foreign entities, Florida is expanding its semiconductor manufacturing capability.

More than $28 million was recently awarded through the Florida Job Growth Grant Fund to expand semiconductor manufacturing and chip manufacturing through five workforce development projects. The awards are part of a $50 million initiative Gov. Ron DeSantis launched in September dedicated to supporting Florida's semiconductor industry. It expands on grants awarded last year to entities in Osceola County.

DeSantis' focus has been on making strategic investments to expand Florida's manufacturing capabilities and strengthen its supply chain while creating high-demand, high-wage jobs. Florida ranks fifth in the US for semiconductor manufacturing jobs and third nationwide for semiconductor establishments.

The funding, DeSantis said, is "laying the groundwork for a strong economic future by investing in growing, high-demand industries that offer high-wage jobs for our residents."

Secretary of Commerce J. Alex Kelly said the state opened up the application process for entities to apply for grant funding in September and its "partners in economic development and workforce education around the state responded overwhelmingly."

So far, five grants have been awarded to fund workforce education opportunities that support semiconductor manufacturing, advanced packaging, and research and development within the military, defense and space industries.

NeoCity in Osceola County again received grant funding this year, although the $17.5 million is larger than it received last year. Funding will go towards constructing a multi-use semiconductor lab facility in NeoCity. Once completed, the project will stimulate high-tech business start-ups and semiconductor manufacturing by providing companies with affordable lab space.

NeoCity, an up-and-coming world epicenter for smart sensors, photonics and optics, has readymade synergies with the University of Central Florida (the nation's largest producer of aerospace engineers), and four other universities, as well as Central Florida's large concentration of Department of Defense partners and contractors, according to its website. It's poised to serve as a catalyst for high-tech innovation and creation, including jobs and capital investment, and is already generating marketplace momentum, and research, development and commercialization hubs in locally planned communities.

Valencia College, also in Osceola County, received $4.17 million to expand its Robotics and Semiconductor Technician program. This is also a larger amount than the grant funding it received last year.

Santa Fe College, with campuses in Alachua and Bradford counties, received $3 million to design and develop a new associate degree in engineering technology with a specialization in Advanced Manufacturing.

Lake Technical College in Lake County received $1.86 million to expand its semiconductor program and create a new advanced manufacturing program.

Eastern Florida State College in Brevard County received $1.55 million to create a new center, the Center for Innovative Technology Education, to train students in robotics and simulation technician skills to design, operate, test and repair robotics systems.

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