ON Semiconductor in South Portland has been awarded a $1 million challenge grant from the Maine Technology Institute and plans to invest a total of $23.2 million to upgrade its manufacturing plant.

The investment comes less than two years after the Phoenix-based company officially purchased the facility, which had been owned by rival Fairchild Semiconductor, for $2.4 billion. At the time of the sale, there were concerns about the age of some of its equipment and what that could mean long-term.

The global semiconductor industry has been in a state of flux as competing companies opt for consolidation and outsourcing to capture greater market share and better returns. ON Semiconductor, which has a global workforce of about 25,000, told investors in September 2016 that it planned to close two or three manufacturing facilities in its global network by the end of 2018.

According to the award announcement from MTI, ON Semiconductor plans to add new “equipment and facilities infrastructure to enable the introduction and volume manufacturing of two new technologies. … The introduction of the new technologies will advance factory capability, improve factory utilization and create more than 25 jobs.”

As of last year, ON Semiconductor employed 650 people locally.

Joshua Madore, the company’s managing director, could not be reached Friday for comment.

The MTI challenge grant was one of seven awards announced Friday, totaling $10.9 million. The money came from the Maine Technology Asset Fund program, which is financed by a $45 million bond approve by voters last year.

During the application period, MTI received 183 proposals from businesses seeking just under $400 million.

“The funding decisions were incredibly difficult given the breadth of quality proposals that MTI received,” Brian Whitney, MTI president, said in a statement. “It is our hope that, given the enormous economic impact that this funding will have in Maine and the many incredible projects that are still in the pipeline, future state funding may be made available to broaden the impact even further.”

In addition ON Semiconductor, MTI awarded the following grants:

* Pleasant River Lumber Co. in Dover-Foxcroft received $4.2 million for a $12 million project to expand and modernize by adding a new planer mill, a continuous dry kiln, and a high-speed small log sawing line.

* Bristol Seafood in Portland received $743,698 for a $4.8 million project to improve its product quality and develop new packaging capabilities, adding 40 jobs over the next five years.

* DeepWater Buoyancy Inc. in Biddeford, which produces subsea products for the oceanographic industry, received $187,500 for a $500,000 effort to upgrade its facility and add new equipment.

* Hussey Seating Co. of North Berwick received $2.8 million to help cover an $8.2 million project to modernize its equipment and facilities and allow the company to compete on a global state.

* J S McCarthy Printers of Augusta was awarded $1.5 million to help pay for a new Heidelberg printing press, a $6 million investment that will allow the company to increase productivity by 50 percent.

* Tilson, an IT company in Portland, received $602,737 for a $1.6 million project that add critical assets to its engineering center.

Eric Russell can be contacted at 791-6344 or at:

[email protected]

Twitter: PPHEricRussell

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