West News Wire: Eastern Pennsylvania’s specialty gas production facility will be expanded by the electronics division of the German multinational pharmaceutical company Merck KGaA for $300 million, according to a statement released on Wednesday. State officials hope that this move will increase the region’s appeal to the rapidly expanding semiconductor industry. 

As part of its plan to invest over $3.5 billion in projects by 2025, including at sites in Arizona, Texas, and California, the subsidiary, EMD Electronics, said that the development will establish the largest integrated speciality gases factory in the world. 

According to company representatives, the location is home to a research center and produces materials used to create the fundamental building blocks of transistors, an element of microchips. 

Gov. Josh Shapiro, who attended the announcement at the site in Schuylkill County, pledged more than $1 million in state grants for the expansion. 

“This industry is huge and its growth potential is enormous, and it is key to our economy and to our national security,” Shapiro told a news conference. 

Chip manufacturers are spending hundreds of billions of dollars to build new factories and expand production in the United States, fueled partly by federal subsidies designed to revive domestic production of computer chips. 

The subsidies are a key element of the Biden administration’s effort to sharpen the U.S. edge in military technology and manufacturing while minimizing the kinds of supply disruptions to Asia during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, when a shortage of chips shut down factory assembly lines. 

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