Factory or farm? Oregon may alter land use for chipmakers

Category: Top Stories


Unlocking Word Meanings

Read the following words/expressions found in today’s article.

  1. urban sprawl / ˈɜr bən sprɔl / (n.) – the state in which urban developments such as buildings, stores, and houses are built in an undeveloped place, often without proper planning

    I don’t like urban sprawl happening in this city. I prefer a quiet area with just a few people living in it.

  2. lure / lʊər / (v.) – to convince someone to do something or go somewhere by promising something exciting

    The new business policy aims to lure businessmen to set up their companies in the area.

  3. conservationist / ˌkɒn sərˈveɪ ʃə nɪst / (n.) – a person who works to care for and protect animals, plants, and the environment from damaging human activities

    Conservationists expressed concerns about the company’s plan to build factories near the forest.

  4. semiconductor / ˌsɛm i kənˈdʌk tər / (n.) – an object that is used primarily in electronic devices that allows electricity or heat to pass through it

    That factory is making semiconductors for a computer company.

  5. competitiveness / kəmˈpɛt ɪ tɪv nɪs / (n.) – the ability to successfully compete with other companies, countries, organizations, etc.

    The senators hope to create a new law that will promote competitiveness among telecommunications companies.


Read the text below.

For exactly 50 years, the farms and forests that ring Oregon’s metropolitan centers have been protected from urban sprawl by the nation’s first statewide law that placed growth boundaries on cities. Cities cannot expand beyond those borders unless they make a request and justify it. Approval by cities and counties can take months or even a few years (larger expansions also need approval by the Oregon Department of Land Conservation and Development).

But now, a bill being considered in Oregon’s Legislature could authorize the governor to unilaterally expand those boundaries as part of Oregon’s quest to lure chip companies and provide land for them to build their factories. The measure would also provide $200 million in grants to chipmakers.

Farmers and conservationists are deeply worried about the proposal and what it will mean for a state that cherishes its open spaces.

“One of the reasons we bought our farm right here is that we knew that for 50 years we’d be farms, and everyone around us would be farms,” Nichols said. “And now we’re not so sure. Now it’s up to one decision by the governor. And that’s a scarier place to be.”

State officials and lawmakers, on the other hand, are eager to bring more semiconductor factories to Oregon while billions of dollars of federal funding to promote the industry are available.

They were stung by Intel’s decision last year to build a massive $20 billion chipmaking complex in Ohio, and not in Oregon where suitably zoned land is scarce.

Oregon has its “Silicon Forest” — a counterpoint to California’s Silicon Valley — and has been at the center of semiconductor research and production for decades. But Oregon is competing with other states to host multibillion-dollar microchip factories, called fabs.

Dramatically expanding semiconductor design and manufacturing in Oregon would create tens of thousands of high-paying construction jobs and thousands of manufacturing and supply chain jobs, the Oregon Semiconductor Competitiveness Task Force said in a report.

But the task force warned that Oregon needs more buildable industrial land near infrastructure, talented workers and specialized suppliers to attract and retain semiconductor businesses, and called for “urgent legislative attention.”

This article was provided by The Associated Press.

Viewpoint Discussion

Enjoy a discussion with your tutor.

Discussion A

  • The farms and forests that ring Oregon’s metropolitan centers have been protected from urban sprawl. But state officials and lawmakers are eager to pass a bill that will bring more semiconductor factories to Oregon. Do you agree with the move of the state officials and lawmakers? Why or why not? Discuss.
  • If state officials and lawmakers pass the bill, what do you think they can do to also protect the interests of the farmers and conservationists? Discuss.

Discussion B

  • Is urban sprawl a problem in your area? Why do you think it’s becoming a problem in some areas? Discuss.
  • In your opinion, how can urban sprawl be controlled? Discuss.