- Rudolph Libbe, a Walbridge, Ohio-based general contractor, broke ground Sept. 21 on solar manufacturer First Solar’s $1.1 billion facility in Iberia Parish, Louisiana, according to a company press release.
- Meanwhile on the East Coast, Wolfspeed, a Durham, North Carolina-based chip maker, broke ground on its $2.5 billion materials manufacturing facility in Siler City, North Carolina.
- Both projects have been spurred, in part, by public money. First Solar’s push for U.S.-made components include its effort to qualify for tax credits from the Inflation Reduction Act, while Wolfspeed is seeking federal funds from the CHIPS Act to accelerate the construction of its facility.
The two megaproject kickoffs illustrate the groundswell of manufacturing projects that continue to break ground across the U.S. at a historic pace, bolstered by public funding support from the CHIPS Act and Inflation Reduction Act.
Private companies have announced over $511 billion so far in commitments to invest in manufacturing construction, such as semiconductor facilities, EV plants or clean energy, according to the White House. Through July, the most recent available month with data, manufacturing construction spending ballooned 71% in 12 months, according to Associated Builders and Contractors analysis.
First Solar’s CEO Mark Widmar detailed the company’s pursuit of federal funds from the IRA in a statement in July. The law provides 30% tax credits for the construction of clean energy manufacturing sites.
Meanwhile, Wolfspeed is applying for funds from the CHIPS Act to support the onshoring of its materials plant.
The project has already received a $1 billion incentive package from the state of North Carolina, and county and local governments, including a Job Development Investment Grant from the North Carolina Department of Commerce.
The two groundbreakings are just the latest examples of public funding packages that continue to prop up manufacturing construction activity across the country. Starts in the sector skyrocketed 285% in August, according to Dodge Construction Network.
The companies behind both projects have growth ambitions, as well.
In addition to the Louisiana facility, First Solar commissioned its Ohio factory earlier this year and expects to complete its new facility in Alabama in 2024.
Wolfspeed intends to add additional capacity as needed to its North Carolina facility between 2024 and the end of the decade. In total, the company plans to occupy more than one million square feet on the 445-acre site, according to the release.