Semiconductor Production Leverages Greater Iowa City’s Advanced Manufacturing Cluster

Posted March 19, 2024
Advanced Manufacturing research at the Iowa Advanced Technology Laboratories

Among the various advanced manufacturing sectors in the greater Iowa City area, semiconductor manufacturing is rising to the top and leading the future of economic development in this industry cluster. This sector is experiencing a pivotal moment due to an influx of federal funding. Our area is uniquely positioned to take advantage of this investment due to our advanced manufacturing ecosystem including research facilities, a ready workforce, and strategic space options. 


At the heart of this burgeoning ecosystem is the University of Iowa, renowned for its world-class programs in electrical and computer engineering, as well as physics. The university’s Materials Analysis, Testing, and Fabrication (MATFab) Facility and the Molecular Beam Epitaxy Lab (MBE), housed within the Iowa Advanced Technology Labs (IATL), are pivotal in driving semiconductor research and innovation. The MBE lab’s capability to grow semiconductor crystalline layers with single atomic layer precision opens doors to groundbreaking advancements in semiconductor technology. Applications range from electronics to photonics. 


Education institutions and the number of advanced manufacturing employers also contribute to greater Iowa City’s highly skilled workforce. With 54.3% of the adult population having a Bachelor’s degree or higher, Johnson County has the highest percentage of educated residents in the state. This educated workforce is reflected in the manufacturing prowess of companies such as Proctor & Gamble, Collins Aerospace, BAE Systems, Integrated DNA Technologies, Nordex, and other established operations in the region. These companies not only contribute to the local economy but also foster a ready workforce and collaborative environment conducive to advanced manufacturing innovation. 


Along with traditional advanced manufacturing facilities, greater Iowa City has seen a trend towards repurposing large office facilities. Left underutilized due to the recent shift of white-collar employees working from home, these office facilities check all the necessary boxes for semiconductor production. Companies are taking advantage of these unique and affordable site options, positioning themselves to leverage greater Iowa City’s advanced manufacturing infrastructure. 


The influx of federal funding for semiconductor production injects much-needed resources into critical infrastructure and research. This strategic allocation of federal funds underscores the importance of semiconductor production in driving technological advancement and greater Iowa City is positioned to take advantage of this investment. By leveraging its academic expertise, skilled workforce, and strategic advantages, our region offers a conducive environment for companies to excel and propel sustainable economic growth. As stakeholders continue to collaborate and invest in this thriving ecosystem, businesses seeking to establish a foothold in the semiconductor production landscape are taking note of greater Iowa City’s hub for advanced manufacturing.