The recent groundbreaking event on October 6 included members of the city of Mesa staff members, and representatives from JX Nippon Mining and Metals. (Photo courtesy of the City of Mesa)

Mesa expands tech corridor with new semiconductor manufacturing facility

JX Nippon Mining and Metals has broken ground on 63 acres of South Mesa land to open a manufacturing facility that will supply critical components for high demand semiconductors, while creating jobs and economic growth for the local expanding tech market.

JX Nippon Mining and Metal is a Japanese owned subsidiary of their larger manufacturing conglomerate, which purchased the land from the city of Mesa in April for $29 million. 

The facility is expected to open in 2024, adding more than 100 jobs to the community. 

The company held a ceremonial groundbreaking event on October 5, 2022 to signify the start of construction. 

The new factory will produce “sputtering targets” which are key components in semiconductors that are used in virtually all computers and advanced electronics. 

The supplies that JX Nippon makes are used in artificial intelligence, autonomous vehicles and internet connected devices.

Located at the North East intersection of Germann and Crimson in South Mesa near the Chandler border, the 273,000 square foot facility will be home to, “the new base of operations for their  [JX Nippon’s] sputtering target business in the U.S,” according to Mesa mayor John Giles. 

Giles said the city’s decision to partner with JX Nippon was based on their “investment and commitment to Mesa.”

JX Nippon Mining and Metals have been in the valley since 1990, and opened their first manufacturing plant in Chandler. 

Their expansion into Mesa is in part due to the “tremendous growth” of companies like Intel and Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company, according to city of Mesa economic development director, Bill Jabiniak. 

When speaking on why JX Nippon chose Mesa when expanding their facilities, Jabiniak said, “We have three advantages. That’s how we sell and how we position ourselves. We have a very educated workforce, and you need to be educated to do these kinds of things, [and] we have the infrastructure on the ground” said Jabiniak. “But then we also have available properties,” Jabiniak added.

“The whole southeast valley is really well positioned to grow with this company and these types of companies,” Jabiniak said.

The new facility is representative of JX Nippon’s deeper expansion into electronics material manufacturing that supplies both the United States and Europe. The Mesa facility will largely consist of manufacturing, but will be split to include 33,000 square feet of office space that run the operations side of the business.

The strategic location of the 240,000 sq ft. manufacturing plant is encompassed by Mesa’s greater Tech Corridor, an area near the Mesa Gateway Airport that has prioritized the development of the local tech industry. 

JX Nippon’s Director of Operations, Brian Valliere, says that the tech corridor “allows us to integrate with and collaborate with those other companies to grow even further and look for synergies”

The manufacturing portion of the facility will create job opportunities for machinists, operators and technicians. Engineering and other higher position jobs are already being filled. 

The 33,000 square feet of office spaces will also create jobs in administration, HR, sales and IT, to name only a few. The building will have features that offer employee wellness as part of the work environment, including private conference rooms, a gym, a garden, and an outdoor landscape for employees to go on walks.

Employees can further benefit from a career at JX Nippon by expanding their education with a degree that is related to their job position. “We have tuition reimbursement, no limit.” said Stephanie Rossi, HR director for JX Nippon. 

The company is also working with the city of Mesa to integrate with local schools, providing resources and tool donations to those entering the tech industry. 

“We do like to give back, and we’re big on providing a means to get that education to help prepare them,” said Valliere.

Sustainability is part of the bigger picture for JX Nippon, as the company plans to be carbon free by 2050. 

The facility itself will have desert landscaping and be equipped with active water monitoring to prevent losses. “We have electric car charging stations, we also have covered parking that’s solar powered, so we’ll be producing our own energy,” said Rossi. 

The high tech facility, when combined with its employees, is a key element in the ongoing semiconductor shortage in the United States. 

“It’s really the advanced semiconductors that are fueling all the new technology, [that] is what we’re short on,” said Valliere. As the company finds itself in a very valuable position, they already envision the next stages of their expansion. 

The new facility makes up only one sixth of the 63 acre property. The company’s next phase will include opening more manufacturing facilities the same size as the one currently being constructed.

“I expect they will keep growing based on the demand,” said Jabiniak. “63 acres, you could easily put 800,000 to 1,000,000 square feet, those are the type of things [manufacturing], they buy extra land in anticipation of future growth, so that’s a smart move,” he added.

Author

  • Rey Covarrubias Jr.

    Rey Covarrubias Jr. is a freelance reporter for the Mesa Legend. As a lifelong Arizonan, he has found his passion in learning and sharing the diverse cultural and natural wonders of the state.