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PAYSON GRINS OVER MAKING MICRON’S LIST

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Payson City has scored a bigger coup than making David Letterman's Top 10 List. It's made Micron Semiconductor Inc.'s list of 12 finalists as a site for the company's planned expansion.

Friday, officials from the Boise-based computer chip manufacturer announced that the Utah County city made the short list of cities they are considering as possible sites for a $1 billion manufacturing expansion. If realized, it would be the largest expansion project in Utah County's history.The company, a subsidiary of Micron Technologies Inc., is currently completing a $400 million expansion of its Boise facilities.

In addition to Payson, the other cities still in the running for the company expansion are Lacey and Tri-Cities, Wash.; Nampa, Coeur d'Alene and Jerome/Twin Falls, Idaho; Butte, Mont.; Omaha, Neb.; Oklahoma City, Okla.; Waterloo and Quad Cities, Iowa; and South Bend, Ind.

"Obviously, it's nice to be in the finals," Utah County Commissioner Gary Herbert said. "This would be one of the greatest coups of all time here. We're not in the clear yet, but I'm cautiously optimistic."

The expansion, which would be larger, economically, than all the construction and expansion projects undertaken in Utah County in the past year combined, would bring between 3,000 to 4,000 new jobs to Utah - and untold millions to the county and state economy from both construction and business operations as well as taxes.

Micron Semiconductor employs 5,200 people in Idaho and has been seeking almost 500 new employees to help staff its expanding Idaho facilities.

Last year, nearly 300 U.S. cities submitted site proposals to the company, including most of those in Utah County. But only Payson and the other 11 finalists met the initial criteria established by Micron officials.

Herbert said Micron is looking at two 400-acre sites in southwest Payson, located near the city's south I-15 interchange.

Micron needs plentiful power and water supplies, both of which would be available because the city has extended those services to its industrial park - including a power plant addition Payson completed last year that vastly increased the electrical power the city produces.

Also, finalist sites must be free from railroad tracks and overhead power lines, which could interfere with the company's chip manufacturing process.

"I can't begin to say how important this would be to our city," Payson Mayor Russell Hillman said. "This is just such fantastic news. It would change our community immensely and positively, because these are the types of jobs we're trying to attract."

Herbert agreed, saying that Utah County "has a good and growing young workforce" that is highly trained with technology skills.

"This would be an ideal marriage of company and community," Herbert said. "Utah County is already known for being (high-tech), so the company would fit well here. And Utah County has many bedroom communities, so employees could live in Payson or make a short commute."

Along with congratulations on making the short list, company officials will be sending finalist cities further specifications and requirements that will be used select the final site by February.

So far, county and city officials have made no financial commitments to the company, though Hillman expects to be working with state officials once Micron's officials make their wish list.

"This is big," Hillman said. "We want it, the county wants it and the state wants it."

Construction on the Micron expansion could begin in the summer, should company officials find their Green Acres. It would also be a major accomplishment for Payson leaders, who have been trying to lure a major manufacturer to the city's struggling industrial park. It is planned as a three-year project.