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Groundbreaking for GloFo chip fab scheduled for Friday

Years of planning will come to a head tomorrow morning in Malta, as chipmaker GlobalFoundries officially breaks ground on its $4.2 billion manufacturing facility.

Site work began last month, when earthmoving equipment began clearing foliage on the 223-acre parcel of land at the Luther Forest Technology Campus where the facility, which the company is calling Fab 2, will be located.

Planning for the facility began in earnest in 2006, when Advanced Micro Devices plunged into the lengthy process. Poor earnings and a shifting marketplace caused AMD to shed its manufacturing operations to form GlobalFoundries, who will sell the microchips made in Malta and its other facility in Dresden, Germany, to AMD and others.

The 1.3-million-square-foot plant will be built with the help of $650 in state tax breaks and cash, to be distributed over a 10-year period.

Construction will be taking place from 6 a.m. to 7 p.m., six days a week, though there will be some periods when 24-hour operations will be necessary. GlobalFoundries has installed noise mitigation measures, and will employ approximately 1,600 in construction jobs.

A 24-hour construction-related complaint hotline has been established at 899-0127.

After an estimated 5 million man hours (about what was used to build the Empire State Building), officials hope that the facility will be operational in 2012. Once at full capacity, it's estimated that Fab 2 will employ 1,400 with an annual payroll of $88 million.

GlobalFoundries's site plan leaves room for two other facilities, or modules, identical to the one about to be started.

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