BEHIND THE SCENES: How Boise Won Micron's $15 Billion Expansion Project

Published by Boise Valley Economic Partnership
July 20, 2023

Micron, the $66 billion dollar semiconductor company founded in the basement of a Boise dentist office, was looking to identify the perfect location to bring memory wafer manufacturing back to the United States. With 19 sites across 11 states, all competing for the new $15 billion memory fab expansion project, the decision was far from guaranteed to favor their Idaho headquarters and its Boise beginnings.

“Micron is here now, but we want them here forever; to keep them here forever we needed to win this deal,” stated Boise Mayor Lauren McLean. “I saw this as a fork in the road, a crossroads, where our city, our region, our state could take one path or the other, and that’s why it was worth fighting for, to make sure Micron chose Boise.”

Micron’s Idaho Headquarters

Lucky for Boise, a team of smart, determined people came together to creatively craft a plan that would further connect Micron’s future to Boise, and the entire state of Idaho, for generations to come.

A Chicago Wake-up Call
Team Idaho was ready. They had prepped for weeks, if not months, and were finally making the trip to pitch to Micron and the consultants hired to meticulously evaluate each potential site’s competitiveness. Feeling confident with “home team advantage,” a select team from the City of Boise, the State of Idaho, Idaho Commerce and Idaho Power traveled to Chicago in November 2021 to sell Boise as the best site for Micron’s expansion.
“I’ll never forget that room,” said Mayor McLean. “This was a whole host of really smart consultants ready to take notes and probe further. We all told our stories and then moved into questions. The consultants asked Idaho Power really specific questions and asked my team questions related to water recycling and water usage. It was a fascinating process to be in the middle of, but also very intimidating.”
“It was clear from the meeting that this was an extremely competitive project,” said Bobbi-Jo Meuleman, Deputy Chief of Staff-Director for Governor Brad Little. “We were not a shoo-in. It was clear we really needed to pick up our game!’”
Following the realization of just how competitive this project was going to be, the team paused to regroup. What followed was some tough conversation, a few pep talks and a determination to come together with grit, innovation, collaboration and partnership to make sure they did everything possible to win the project for Idaho.


Coming Together to Build a Thriving Ecosystem

Boise had a lot of great advantages as a possible site for Micron’s new memory manufacturing fab. With more than 800,000 people in the metro area and the presence of a large, growing labor pool, Boise offers a diverse range of talents and skills for Micron to tap into. Additionally, the metro area’s 18.5% job growth over a five-year period compared to the national growth level of 3.4%, indicates a favorable and expanding business environment.

Employees collaborating at a Micron manufacturing facility

At the state level, Governor Little's “Leading Idaho Initiative” had already begun, making strategic investments in infrastructure, clean water, broadband, education and more. These projects would quickly help create an efficient foundation for Micron’s expansion. In addition, Governor Little signed the Idaho Launch program to take effect in 2024. The bill will provide Idaho high school graduates with an $8,500 grant to put toward career training at an Idaho-based education institute.
Finally, a huge legislative win came out of the 2022 session with the Idaho Semiconductors for America Act. This legislation provided qualifying semiconductor companies with a sales and use tax exemption on the purchase of qualifying construction and building materials. It was the perfect last piece of the puzzle.
“Idaho cities [specifically] have few tools when it comes to economic development,” said Mayor McLean. “We had to look beyond the dollars that a lot of communities give and ask ourselves, ‘What can we do creatively that we haven’t been told we can’t?’” The Boise mayor and her team helped Micron with infrastructure, water recycling, and technology and expertise from the public works team.
Idaho Power made a strong case for Micron to bet on Boise by continuing to provide clean, reliable, low-cost power for a facility that would use massive amounts of electricity. Idaho Power is one of the cleanest energy providers today with 40-50% of its energy mix coming from renewables such as hydroelectric, solar and wind. It was also one of the first energy providers to set a goal of 100% clean energy by 2045.
Scott Gatzemeier, Micron’s Vice President of Front End U.S. Expansion said, “The mayor and her team did a fantastic job helping us with the infrastructure, the state government did a fantastic job helping us with several items, and partners like Idaho Power helped us with reliable power and building upon the relationship we already had. These were all key things that allowed the Micron team to know that Boise is where we obviously had to go for this project.”

Mayor McLean shares remarks at Micron’s Boise Fab groundbreaking event
Boise’s remarkable collaboration, partnerships, shared vision and thriving ecosystem ultimately won Micron over. “It was almost like the Olympics to some degree,” explained Adam Richins, Chief Operating Officer at Idaho Power, “It wasn’t team Idaho Power or team Boise City, we were all team Idaho.” Every Idaho partner mirrored the Micron values and came together with solutions benefitting the entire community. “It was a very demanding process that only worked because all teams became one and were serious about making sure we left no stone unturned because it was what we needed for this state,” said Mayor McLean.

Compounding Effect of Partnerships and Progress

The success of the Micron expansion project in Idaho serves as a foundation for attracting and winning other major projects. The ecosystem being built and the demonstrated capability to deliver can be leveraged to secure future economic investments.
“Once the ecosystem is set up, the ability to attract additional people to Boise to take advantage of the construction trade labor force that’s here now, that’s also going to create a flywheel effect and make it easier to land economic development opportunities,” said Gatzemeier.
Gatzemeier also acknowledged the compounding economic effect of bringing 2,000 high-paying manufacturing jobs to the Treasure Valley and building this new semiconductor manufacturing fab in Boise. Companies out of Europe and Asia will establish a presence in Boise to supply Micron. More office space will be needed, and warehouses will be built to hold spare parts and supplies. Additional support professionals will add to the economic growth of the area.
“The word has gotten out about Boise as a technological hub of advancement and development,” said Clark Krause, Executive Director of the Boise Valley Economic Partnership. “The accomplishment of bringing Micron to Boise is earning the attention and interest of other potential investors, generating momentum and curiosity that can be capitalized on for future economic development opportunities.”
“Kids who graduate from here can go work on the most advanced technology in the world, then go downtown and to the hills and enjoy everything that Boise has to offer. That’s what’s truly humbling to be a part of, to know there’s that future for our kids,” added Gatzemeier.
The success of the Micron project and the effort and partnership that went into making the investment and development happen will enhance Idaho's credibility and desirability as a business destination for years to come.