A more strategic fit?

No one in Eugene (well, at least, hardly anyone) wanted the Hynix computer semiconductor plant in that city to shut down – as it did last year – and thereby wipe out about 1,300 jobs. There’s not any way to spin that as good news for the city.

But . . . the news this week that Uni-Chem of South Korea and Spire Corporation of Massachusetts (in a joint deal) might buy the plant to build solar cells and modules, and thereby restore about 1,000 jobs, might be something a little more than just a recovery story.

Welcome enough on that basis, of course. But the semiconductor business (while certainly valuable on its own merits) had relatively little synergy, brought not a tremendous number of spinoffs to Eugene. The combination of other and related solar and electric vehicle developments in Oregon are a different matter. If this new plant develops the way it sounds it might, this could be a critical link in making the Willamette Valley a keystone in that new and rapidly developing industry. We may wind some some time off looking back on this as a development larger even than the (again, important on its merits) restoration of 1,000 or so jobs.

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