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Taiwanese Transplants Moving to Phoenix in Droves

By March 17, 2023No Comments

By Audrey Jensen | Phoenix Business Journal

TSMC (Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co.) has hired more than 2,000 employees for its new Arizona campus, while more than 600 employees hired in the U.S. have completed months-long training in Taiwan, the company told the Business Journal. This includes hundreds of employees and their families who have relocated from Taiwan to help start operations at TSMC’s new Phoenix campus.

Although ASU produces a lot of engineers — it is the largest engineering school in the U.S. with a student enrollment of 30,000 last fall — TSMC will need more than what the school is producing and will be looking to hire employees globally, Laura Franco French, director of state government relations for TSMC in Arizona, told Maricopa Association of Governments committee members during a meeting in February.

“We’ll need the top talent in the world,” she said. “Because this technology is not happening here, we had to bring several employees from Taiwan to stand up this fab, so we have the added benefit of a large Taiwanese population who has come here.”

Many workers who were reassigned from Taiwan will only stay for three to four years to ramp up operations, French said, but some may live in Arizona permanently and raise their family in the U.S., adding to the growing multiculturalism in Phoenix.

Over the past year, these new residents have arrived in several charter flights from Taiwan to Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport, with the latest landing on March 7 with a few hundred more Taiwan and U.S. workers in tow.

For those who have moved from Taiwan, the organizations say some of the families’ primary concerns are finding the right schools, learning how to navigate the Valley and finding a social or religious connection as well as health care and housing.

Since it will become a major Valley employer, TSMC has already spurred the development of thousands of new homes and build-to-rent and apartment units in north Phoenix, but many employees moving here, whether for construction or operations, have been finding homes or apartments in neighborhoods located within a 15 to 20-minute drive from the factory, according to real estate agents who operate in the area.

As these homes fill up, employees have also been looking to neighborhoods in Peoria and Glendale, while many of TSMC’s Taiwan employees are living in a new apartment complex about 15 minutes south of the plant. TSMC said it is providing housing options for its reassigned employees and “competitive” relocation packages for out-of-state new hires.

Although TSMC has driven demand for homes and rentals, it’s difficult to say whether double-digit price jumps recorded in north Phoenix in recent years happened because of the manufacturer or because of the pandemic-related surge for houses that took place over the last two-plus years, experts said.

Ling Zhu, a Realtor with RE/MAX, said she saw an uptick in investors from Seattle, California and New York looking to buy homes in north Phoenix after TSMC broke ground in mid-2021 to rent out the homes and because they believed the house values would appreciate.

With many workers moving close to the factory, TSMC has about 300 students across 19 schools in the Deer Valley Unified School District, which already had one of the largest Mandarin language programs in Arizona. The district has a liaison, Phoenix-based Shàn Strategies, which works specifically with Taiwanese families, while some of its schools have held welcome events for the families.

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