FOR SALE: Motorola’s Mesa plant

OCT. 3–MESA, AZ–Motorola will cease chip making at its Mesa complex by the end of this year, and the company will close its doors completely during the second quarter of 2003, The Tribune newspaper reports.

The shutdown will end more than three decades of semiconductor manufacturing at the complex at Dobson and Broadway roads, which Motorola opened in 1969. The company still is looking for a buyer for the plant, says Jeff Martin, the company’s director of Arizona site services.

Interest is the property has been sporadic since Motorola put it on the market early this year, he said. “There are some who are interested in some of the clean room aspects. Others are interested in it just as a location,” he said. “No one is serious yet. That’s probably a reflection of the economy.”

About 500 employees remain at the site, down from 2,600 last year, when the company announced it would end production in Mesa. Two of the three semiconductor factories at the complex have been closed, and the third, which is the most modern, will close in about three months.

Equipment is being removed from the two closed factories, or fabs, and most of it is being sold, Martin adds. Some of the tools in the third fab, built in 1995, will be moved to other Motorola plants, he says.
Motorola will not retain any activities at the Mesa site once the third I factory is closed.

“By the second half of next year there will just be a few caretakers,” Martin says. “We don’t want the site to become an eyesore.”

Employees displaced by the closing have retired, moved on to other jobs within Motorola in Tempe and Chandler, or have been laid off with severance packages.

Company officials did not provide figures for the numbers in each category. Overall, Motorola’s semiconductor employment in the Valley has declined from about 10,000Uto about 6,000 during the industry slump of the past two years.

In the East Valley, the company also operates its Computer Group and a Motorola research center at several locations in Tempe, and a plant for more advanced semiconductor development in Chandler. Motorola sold its government electronics operation in Scottsdale to General Dynamics last year.


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