Intel plans to invest $3.5 billion to modernize New Mexico plant

Santa Fe New Mexican – RIO RANCHO — How big was it?

So big that three members of New Mexico’s congressional delegation — and the governor — showed up.

So big that the money figures bandied about dwarfed Facebook’s investment in the state.

Intel Corp. on Monday announced a $3.5 billion modernization of its Rio Rancho plant to increase the manufacturing capacity for its next-generation advanced semiconductor technology research and manufacturing — a move that gives new momentum to the New Mexico production facility and provides some badly needed good news on the state’s economic front.

The investment exceeds the $1 billion-plus Facebook has invested in its Los Lunas data center since 2016, with Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham calling Intel’s commitment the “single largest investment by a company in New Mexico.”

Lujan Grisham, U.S. Sens. Martin Heinrich and Ben Ray Luján and U.S. Rep. Teresa Leger Fernández attended the announcement — an indication of just how much impact an Intel plant with renewed vigor could mean for the state’s economy, which is largely dependent on the oil and gas industry.

Santa Clara, Calif.-based Intel is the largest U.S. semiconductor manufacturer and among the three largest in the world. Its Rio Rancho plant — which until the past few years had been a significant chipmaker within the company’s portfolio — has existed since 1980. Officials now describe the Rio Rancho plant’s mission as the company’s “innovation hub.”

“This is an important part of Intel’s global operations,” said Keyvan Esfarjani, Intel’s senior vice president of manufacturing and operations. “Now Rio Rancho is even more critical to Intel’s success.”

The three-year modernization converts the Intel plant from its past as a central processing unit and traditional semiconductor manufacturer to an advanced semiconductor technology manufacturer. Intel is pioneering stacking semiconductor tiles on top of each other rather than side by side. The practice saves space in components like cellphones and personal computers.

Heinrich could not resist describing it as “stacked enchiladas.”

“This is an opportunity for New Mexico to lead in science and technology,” Heinrich said at the announcement, conducted on the lawn in front of the Intel campus.

The state Economic Development Department is investing $5 million in Local Economic Development Act funds to the project if hiring metrics are met. Intel announced 700 jobs should be added in the next three years to the 1,800 now in place at Rio Rancho.

Sandoval County pledged $500,000 if specific job goal requirements are met, and Rio Rancho plans to add $250,000. Intel also will be allowed to keep $14 million, half the projected $28 million in gross receipts tax revenue, generated by the construction.

“This launches a new economic reality in New Mexico,” Lujan Grisham said. “We have expectations of more of this kind of work.”

Intel has been on a rebound in Rio Rancho the past two years after employment dropped from more than 5,000 in the first half of the 2000s to 1,100 in 2017 and 2018 as central processing unit manufacturing was phased out and Intel transitioned into advanced semiconductor technology.

The $3.5 billion modernization principally will enable Intel to install its Foveros 3D chip-stacking technology, introduced in 2019, and enhance technology already in place since 2017 to simplify and optimize semiconductor packaging, memory and connectivity, said Erika Edgerly, Intel’s director of public affairs for New Mexico, Texas and Massachusetts.

“Foveros plays into many of our future product lines,” Edgerly said.

The modernization will update and optimize the 350,000-square-foot Fab 11 and Fab 11X structures from the early 1990s and revive the more than 70,000-square-foot Fab 9 building that has been unused since 2008-09, Edgerly said.

“It’s about the efficiency of running the factory,” said Katie Proudy, Intel New Mexico’s site leader and vice president of manufacturing and operations. “The biggest thing is automated manufacturing and data analysis. We have a lot of capability, but this is a way to transition into a new way of doing things.”

Intel no longer produces CPUs in Rio Rancho.

“This will serve to modernize our existing facility so they can support advanced packaging,” Intel spokeswoman Linda Qian said. “It’s a new era of innovation for Intel in New Mexico. New Mexico is evolving as a hub of innovation for advanced packaging.”

Intel first built Fab 7 — the seventh company fabrication facility — on a sod farm in what had yet to become Rio Rancho in 1980. At the time, the population was 10,000; the city incorporated in 1981. With Intel as an anchor, Rio Rancho has evolved into New Mexico’s third-largest city with about 100,000 residents.

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  • OhHey

    This sounds great, but I don’t know how much of this will actually happen . Obviously 3.5 million dollars in infrastructure will be a good thing, but the impact seems a little too good to be true.

    • 2:00 pm - May 4, 2021

  • Vl0

    This is good news for New Mexico, especially during a period where long-term jobs are difficult to find. This state’s economy’s reliance on fossil fuels is likely not sustainable based on current trends, so moving to other industries will probably be vital to New Mexico’s success in the future. Intel’s decision is a relatively safe one, as they have the workers and the infrastructure already, but hopefully this marks the beginning of more companies expanding into the state.

    • 8:37 am - May 5, 2021

  • irides

    What about the effects modernizing the plant will have on the environment? Is it really modernizing if the plant does not have less of an harmful impact on the environment? Could this displace people from their homes? Will people lose their jobs from this? Modernizing a plant without thinking about these things is extremely harmful. What is the point of modernization if only economic growth is achieved from it? Economic growth does not matter compared to these issues. If anything remaining neutral economically is fine as long as the environment is doing well and people are not living in poverty.

    • 10:13 am - May 5, 2021

  • Velocirapstar7703!

    I love to see the business world integrating into New Mexico little by little, a state in which that thrives off of cattle and agriculture. Intel has decided to broaden its horizons and establish a better and modernized facility in Rio Rancho, New Mexico, which in turn will provide more jobs to the citizens of the district and better the economic and financial situation of New Mexico by a total of $3.5 billion. I am worried about possible unexpected consequences that are yet to be expected. I am also curious to see how the residents of Rio Rancho will react to Intel’s expansion. Will they appreciative or will they detest against the idea of a major corporation expanding in their district of New Mexico?

    • 10:27 am - May 5, 2021

  • FLOWERS52604

    This is actually very exciting news for our state. Like it said in the article, this will help NM’s economic status in the long run and that is great news. I also caught that this is an opportunity for NM to be more involved with technology and science which, I think, would play a part in our National Labs.

    • 8:01 pm - May 5, 2021

  • Funky Boots

    I really like the idea of some industry boosting New Mexico’s economy and maybe even helping us move away from coal and gas industries as our primary supports for the economy. I also like the idea of more technological innovation taking place in the state.

    • 8:18 pm - May 5, 2021

  • Bingus

    This is really good news in my opinion because it can help the unemployment rate in NM, and is a great boost for NM’s economy.

    • 8:17 am - May 6, 2021

  • zebrafan1010101

    This is good news for our state of New Mexico. Not only is our state able to be more involved with the future in technology and science, there will now be new jobs available. It now seems like New Mexico has committed to being involved with technology and science for years to come.

    • 9:04 am - May 6, 2021

  • rain

    I think it is important for companies to support all different kind of locations, really creating jobs all over the country. Having all the companies being centered in one state leads to the economic disparity that exists between then. Having the company create jobs and invest in states that are no as wealthy as really helps the economy. I am just happy the companies are seeing new mexico.

    • 10:00 am - May 6, 2021

  • NotMeLol

    I’m glad to see that New Mexico is having a great opportunity to work with Intel. It’s also good to hear that this new project with bring forth hundreds of jobs, an economic boost to NM and will modernize the state and bring it into the forefront for technology development and manufacturing.

    • 10:10 am - May 6, 2021

  • Fajada_Sunrise

    This new investment seems like such a good thing–all the money flowing back into the economy, 700 new jobs; this will go a fairly long way in repairing the economy from the massive hit it suffered because of the pandemic. Those 700 jobs will help lower the inflated unemployment rate and the money will go along way–and not to mention this “upgrade” will advance New Mexico’s technological stance as the article suggests.

    • 2:15 pm - May 6, 2021


    Not only is this great for New Mexico’s economy resulting in more jobs, but it’s also a great opportunity to continue the development of advancing technology. Especially with the pandemic being an issue with employment, it will definitely benefit those who have struggled with maintaining a job during the epidemic. I can’t wait to see how this will benefit the economy and the advancement of technology!

    • 4:13 pm - May 6, 2021

  • Serendipity

    If everything in this article will actually happen, that would be awesome. I think a switch in technology/energy resources would be amazing for New Mexico. It is a huge investment and I genuinely hope it will be worth it and work out in the way this article says.

    • 9:53 am - May 7, 2021

  • Bunny03

    This is wonderful for the New Mexican economy because it will give us infrastructure along with hundreds of new jobs. I hope that this plan will work because this is a major moral boost for all New Mexicans.

    • 10:19 am - May 7, 2021

  • Mikasa

    It’s really cool how intel’s investment could help New Mexicos economy so much. I know that it would be greatly appreciated and could help so many people with getting jobs and just boosting New Mexicos economy in general.

    • 12:19 pm - May 7, 2021