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HILLSBORO, OR-Sumitomo Electric Industries Ltd of Japan is securing a seven-acre site here this week on which it will construct its first US factory for the production of semiconductor materials for the wireless market. The exact location of the site will be announced next week when negotiations are finalized.

The company intends to invest $20 million initially, and up to $90 million more to expand facilities as demand for its products increase with demand in wireless markets. Construction is expected to begin this month. Production at the new facility is slated to begin in August 2001.

Sumitomo Electric makes what are called gallium arsenide wafers, components of processors that allow faster transmission of data and voice communications than the traditional but less expensive silicon wafers. About 30 people will be employed by the plant initially, and as many as 150 will work there in three years, again based on demand for its products.

The company has been manufacturing compound semiconductor materials in Itami and Osaka, Japan for more than 30 years. The company also manufactures electric wires and cables and other industrial products. Its sales exceeded $13 billion in 1999. Kenichi Yoshida, managing director for the company, says Hillsboro was selected for a variety of reasons, not the least of which was the accelerated development approval process. “The need to move quickly was a key factor in making this investment,” Yoshida said. “The ‘Silicon Forest’ has excellent infrastructure for semiconductor manufacturing, including highly reliable utilities, a well-educated workforce, and proximity to key suppliers.”

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