Holcomb: ‘We have made progress’

In this photo released by the Taiwan Presidential Office, Taiwan's President Tsai Ing-wen at...
In this photo released by the Taiwan Presidential Office, Taiwan's President Tsai Ing-wen at right exchanges gifts with U.S. Indiana Governor Eric Holcomb during a meeting at the Presidential office in Taipei, Taiwan, Monday, Aug 22, 2022.((Taiwan Presidential Office via AP))
Published: Aug. 24, 2022 at 4:09 PM EDT
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TAIWAN (Inside INdiana Business) - A trade delegation led by Governor Eric Holcomb is in South Korea now as it continues a push for more investment and jobs from Asian companies in the semiconductor and electric vehicle battery industries.

The group spent the first half of the trip in Taiwan, where a Memorandum of Understanding was signed, aimed at strengthening economic ties between Indiana and the island nation and implicitly agreeing to enhance semiconductor supply chains.

“The meetings that we have had haven’t just been eye-opening, we have made progress,” said Holcomb, who believes the trip will lead to future investment in the state.

The delegation will be joined by Purdue University-President Elect Mung Chiang in South Korea, where there will be a focus on electric vehicle battery investment.

In an interview with Gerry Dick from Taiwan, Holcomb talked about reaction to the Indiana sales pitch and the role colleges and universities will play in building a “silicon heartland.”

“They love the ecosystem [that’s] developing,” said Holcomb. “They love that that is a ginormous magnet for talent, and so as the world I hope shifts or tilts toward Indiana…this could be a big boost to Hanover and Trine and Indiana University and, you know, all of our schools that offer engineering degrees because we need them all. And we need a lot more of them.”

The governor says the country needs about 300,000 engineers, which bodes well for Indiana because of the direct pipelines already in place among academic institutions and companies through internships and apprenticeship programs.

“A lot of these companies are going to have a certain percentage of their workforce coming right out of that apprenticeship program. And so we’re really, quite frankly, early in the whole explosion of this of this industry. And we seek to continue to grow it responsibly, very methodically and have a broad based effort as we go forward.”

Purdue University is at the center of the burgeoning semiconductor industry in Indiana. In June, Taiwan-based MediaTek Inc., the world’s fourth-largest semiconductor company, announced plans to establish a chip design center on the West Lafayette campus.

Less than a month later, Minnesota-based SkyWater Technology (Nasdaq: SKYT) announced plans to build a $1.8 billion semiconductor R&D and production facility at Purdue’s Discovery Park, a project expected to create 750 jobs over five years.

As the focus of the delegation now shifts to electric vehicle batteries, a site in New Carlisle is one step closer to landing a $2.4 billion EV battery manufacturing plant from Ultium Cells LLC, a joint venture between General Motors and LG Energy Solution.

Ultium has not officially selected a site for the plant, for which other locations are also being considered. However, the St. Joseph County Council on Tuesday gave initial approval to a tax abatement request for the project, that could bring 1,600 jobs to northern Indiana.

You can see more of our interview with Governor Holcomb in this weekend’s edition of Inside INdiana Business with Gerry Dick.

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