Technology and advanced manufacturing industries are driving notable growth in many states across the West and Southwest. Semiconductor companies are investing billions in new facilities in Nevada, California and Oregon. Meanwhile, New Mexico continues to grow as a U.S.–Mexico transit hub, while Texas is attracting more international investors.
GROWING ON THE GLOBAL STAGE
The Lone Star State remains home to some of the fastest-growing metro areas in the country, both in population and economy. In 2022, the state landed more than 1,000 projects, netting over $44 billion in capital investments and creating more than 35,000 jobs. Texas has been a hotbed of foreign direct investment in recent years and is now one of the leading destinations for foreign-owned companies that employ nearly 700,000 workers in the state. Gov. Greg Abbott and economic developers have aggressively pursued trade missions and initiatives with international partners in recent years, including France, Brazil, Germany, India, Japan, Mexico and Korea.
Siemens announced in November 2023 that it will build a $150 million high-tech manufacturing plant in Ft. Worth. Britain-based construction equipment manufacturer JCB announced in October 2023 a massive $30 billion project in San Antonio that will create 1,500 jobs. And South Korean company Samsung is currently building a $25 billion semiconductor manufacturing plant in Taylor. The project will create over 2,000 high-tech jobs when complete. “Companies like Samsung continue to invest in Texas because of our world-class business climate and exceptional workforce,” said Gov. Abbott in a press release.
WINNING WITH LITHIUM
Much like its neighbor to the northwest, the Grand Canyon State has become a hotbed of advanced manufacturing and lithium battery production. According to the Semiconductor Industry Association, Arizona now leads the nation in semiconductor investments, landing more than $60 billion in new projects since 2020. In October 2023, American Battery Factory broke ground on a $1.2 billion Giga factory in Tucson that will create more than 1,000 jobs.
State officials credit the growth to the robust talent pipeline anchored by top universities and one of the nation’s fastest-growing populations. Global companies such as Intel are also investing in new partnerships with local institutions and workforce development programs. In 2022, in partnership with Intel and TSMC, Maricopa Community Colleges launched the Semiconductor Technician Quick Start program to prepare students for careers as semiconductor technicians. In July 2023, ASU, Applied Materials and ACA announced a $270 million shared research and prototype facility that will provide students and faculty with opportunities for hands-on learning.
The tech and advanced manufacturing ecosystem has also given rise to new EV manufacturing projects with other zero-emissions transportation and energy supply and infrastructure solutions. In September 2023, the HYLA brand celebrated the commercial launch of the Nikola hydrogen fuel cell electric vehicle in Coolidge.
AN ELECTRIFYING ECONOMY
Nevada continues to lead the nation in population growth and job growth. The lithium-ion battery industry is booming, and it is the only state with a complete lithium supply chain, including refining, manufacturing and refurbishing sustainable battery materials. The growth in the battery industry has also made the state a major player in the EV supply chain. Several battery projects have been announced here in recent years. Redwood Materials announced a $1.1 billion facility in December 2022, and in March 2023, Tesla announced it will invest more than $3.6 billion and add 3,000 new jobs at its growing Gigafactory in Sparks. “Fueling this is the complete lithium loop and the fact that Nevada is currently home to the only lithium mine in the United States,” said Tom Burns, executive director of GOED.
Nevada is also experiencing strong growth in logistics and advantaged manufacturing, which have grown 33 percent and 16 percent, respectively, since 2019. Part of that is due to its one-day drive to Pacific ports and within a two-day drive of every state west of the Mississippi River.
BIG ANNOUNCEMENTS IN THE BEEHIVE STATE
A strong economy, high quality of life, and an abundance of natural and outdoor activities are helping Utah climb the ranks in many areas. A diverse mix of manufacturers and tech companies have migrated to the state in search of quality talent. In February 2023, Utah landed its largest economic development deal ever when Texas Instruments announced an $11 billion investment and 800 new tech jobs in Lehi. “Companies like Texas Instruments continue to invest in Utah because of our world-class business climate and exceptional workforce,” said Gov. Spencer Cox. “TI’s new semiconductor factory will solidify Utah as a global semiconductor manufacturing hub for generations to come.”
Kent Outdoors announced in October 2023 that it would relocate its headquarters to Summit County and create 84 new jobs in the coming years. In August, Gabb Wireless announced 700 new jobs in Lehi, and Lakeshore Learning announced an expansion with 540 new jobs in Box Elder County. OmniTeq announced in August 2023 that it will invest $33 million in Davis County and add more than 4,000 new high-paying jobs over the next decade.
The Centennial State continues to grow as a hub for tech and advanced industries. In October 2023, Colorado and the TechHubNow! initiative secured a federal designation as a Regional Technology and Innovation Hub (Tech Hub) focused on the advancement of the quantum industry. Quantum technology is projected to drive trillions of dollars in economic growth globally over the coming decade. Colorado now leads the world in quantum companies, jobs and innovation with investments by companies like Maybell Quantum and Atom Computing.
The state is also attracting a mixed bag of tech and advanced manufacturing projects. Microchip Technology announced in February 2023 a $880 million expansion and 400 new jobs at its Colorado Springs facility. Startup manufacturer Canopy Aerospace selected Littleton as its headquarters in April 2023. Aerospace engineering company Boecore announced in August 2023 an expansion and 620 new jobs in Colorado Springs. And in September 2023, cybersecurity company Infinity Labs announced an expansion in Colorado Springs.
GROWING IN THE GEM STATE
Despite the economic headwinds blowing across much of the county, recent economic data indicates Idaho is booming. Economists with the Idaho Department of Labor said in October 2023 that the state was adding double the monthly jobs it was prior to the pandemic.
Lamb Weston is currently undertaking a $415 million expansion at its facilities in American Falls, making it the world’s largest potato processing facility when it is complete. In April 2023, LDK Ventures completed construction on a distribution center in Nampa. And in May 2023, Meta Platforms announced it will build an $800 million data center in Kuna.
Micron officially broke ground in October 2023 on its planned $15 billion manufacturing facility in Boise, representing the largest private investment in state history. The company estimates the project will create more than 17,000 jobs, with at least 2,000 direct jobs. The company will also invest $74 million into its Community Investment Framework to go towards community and workforce development. “Soon, Boise will be home to one of the world’s most advanced manufacturing facilities,” said Scott DeBoer, executive vice president of Micron.
24. NEW MEXICO
BOOMING BORDER BUSINESS
New Mexico is making a bigger name for itself on the global stage. The robust Foreign Trade Zone on its international border with Mexico offers a lower cost of business, abundant land and workforce training programs. Four big international companies have made announcements here in the past year. In August 2023, Maxeon Solar of Singapore announced its first U.S. manufacturing expansion in Albuquerque with a $1 billion investment and the creation of up to 1,800 new jobs. Taiwanese Tesla supplier Hota Industrial Mfg. Co. also announced in September 2023 that it will invest nearly $100 million in a new factory in Santa Teresa. Mtex Antenna Technology of Germany and Star Scientific of Australia also announced new investments.
Jon Clark, interim cabinet secretary for the New Mexico Department of Economic Development, credits growth in the state to its location, workforce and incentive programs, such as the deal-closing fund LEDA, which helps companies with the cost of relocation and expansion. Like many states, New Mexico’s near-record unemployment rate has led to labor shortages. Recent state investments in the state’s education system have left it with one of the most comprehensive tuition-free college programs, covering not only four-year degrees but vocational and trade certifications. “This puts us in a very competitive position to work with businesses and upskill their current workforce, as well as train new hires in skill-specific curriculums,” said Clark.
CAPTURING NEW OPPORTUNITIES
There has been talk of a potential economic slowdown in Wyoming, but the data may indicate otherwise. The September 2023 MACRO Report from the Wyoming Economic Analysis Division found year over year, jobs in the state were up 2.7 percent, and personal income increased at an annualized rate of 4.4 percent, slightly more than the national average. While the state faces labor challenges and a rising cost of living, it retains a business-friendly environment and favorable tax rates.
Plenty Unlimited announced in February 2023 an expansion of its R&D facilities and 200 new jobs in Laramie. Plans for Australia-based Phoslock Environmental Technologies to relocate a manufacturing plant from China to Casper recently fell through, leaving Advance Casper seeking new buyers for property earmarked for the project. Meanwhile, the carbon capture economy continues to take root. CarbonCapture announced Project Bison in September 2022 to develop and deploy direct air capture machines to remove CO2 from the atmosphere and store it underground.
GROWING IN THE TREASURE STATE
In October 2023, ADP’s monthly National Employment Report showed that Montana’s annual pay average was up 7.4 percent from October 2022, surpassing the national average. By some Census estimates, several of Montana’s towns are now the fastest-growing in the country.
Dvele announced in June 2023 an $80 million modular home manufacturing plant and 500 new jobs in Butte. Accelerate Montana announced in July 2023 a partnership with Microsoft TechSpark to foster digital inclusion, job creation, and technological innovation in the state. In October 2023, the Economic Development Administration named Montana a Regional Technology and Innovation Hub, making Montana State University a center for photonics and smart sensors technology. The Headwaters Regional Technology and Innovation Hub will leverage regional assets in Missoula, Bozeman, and surrounding areas to develop and deploy smart photonic sensing systems.
FLYING HIGH WITH AEROSPACE
Washington state’s economy was demonstrating strong growth in Q3 2023, particularly in exports and tech jobs. Aerospace remains a primary driver, with companies like Boeing and Blue Origin supporting more than 13,000 jobs in the state. In October 2023, the American Aerospace Materials Manufacturing Center in Spokane was officially designated one of the 31 inaugural tech hubs under the Tech Hubs Program. Led by Gonzaga University, the consortium will work to meet the growing demand for lightweight composite materials to support the next generation of sustainable aircraft.
“This designation is a testament to the innovative manufacturing and collaborative research taking place in Spokane and across Washington state,” said Gov. Jay Inslee. “Not only will the hub provide good-paying jobs and help maintain Washington’s global aerospace leadership, it will also lead us further toward our climate and sustainability goals.”
Dutch company SkyNRG announced in March 2023 that it will locate a new $800 million sustainable aviation fuel plant in the state. ZeroAvia also announced in June 2023 an expansion of its elect population R&D facility at Paine Field. “With the vast array of talented aerospace and electrical engineers, amid a hub of aerospace industry peers also pushing toward sustainable flight, Everett is a hugely important location for us,” said Val Miftakhov, CEO and founder of ZeroAvia, in a press release.
It’s all about semiconductors in the Beaver State. Based on recent announcements, economic development officials forecast at least $40 billion in new investments and 6,300 jobs in the coming years. Officials credit the growth to the $500 million in incentives lawmakers approved in 2022. These incentives include $240 million in grants and loans for new and expanded facilities and $255 million in tax credits for advanced research. At least 15 companies have received funding, including startups and those that already have a presence in the state, such as Intel, Jireh Semiconductor, Lam Research and Stratacache. In mid and late 2023, Microchip Technology announced an expansion and 300 new jobs at its production facility in Gresham, and Intel announced a major expansion in Hillsboro.
Oregon has also attracted several notable projects in other sectors in the past year. Roseburg Forest Products announced in April 2023 a $700 million expansion and 120 new jobs. Analog Devices announced in July 2023 a $1 billion expansion at investment in Beaverton, and lithium battery maker QPO Energy announced in September 2023 an expansion at its operations in Tualatin.
SHINING OPPORTUNITIES IN SEMICONDUCTORS
California is part of a group of states capitalizing on the reshoring of semiconductor manufacturing back to the United States. Over the past few years, semiconductor companies have invested billions in factories in the state. Solidigm announced in October 2022 a $100 million research and development facility in Rancho Cordova that will create up to 1,900 jobs over the next five years. Bosch announced in April 2023 a $1.5 billion expansion in Roseville to convert its TSI manufacturing facilities to state-of-the-art processes. And in May 2023, Applied Materials, the world’s biggest maker of tools used in manufacturing chips, announced it would invest $4 billion in Sunnyvale. The facility is expected to come online in 2026 and will create up to 2,000 engineering jobs.
California was also selected in October 2023 as one of the seven states included in the Regional Clean Hydrogen Hubs (H2Hubs) program. It will receive $1.2 billion from the U.S. Department of Energy to build and expand projects focused on the development and deployment of clean, renewable hydrogen to power public transportation, heavy-duty trucks, port operations and more. “California’s Hydrogen Hub will cut pollution, power our clean energy economy and create hundreds of thousands of good paying jobs,” said Gov. Gavin Newsom in a press release.
*State’s rank in the 2023 Chief Executive Best & Worst States for Business.