Chip manufacturing giant Intel Corp. assured Jerusalem Mayor Uri Lupolianski on Monday it planned to expand its Jerusalem research and development center this year but would follow through with its plans to close its production facility. Lupolianski met with Intel Jerusalem CEO Yitzhak Ohayon and the R&D center's general manager Yishai Frankel out of concern for the company's future in the city after it announced last month it intends to close the Jerusalem Fab 8 production facility at the end of this year. During the meeting, the Intel representatives said they intend to hire another 50 workers at the R&D center during the year and would work with the municipality to bring a new production line to the Jerusalem facility. "Beyond the damage of dismissing hundreds of workers, Intel has been a symbol of the hi-tech industry in Jerusalem, benefiting from the city's intellectual work force while we enjoyed the having the presence of the major player in the global computer industry." the mayor said. Speculation that Intel would sell the facility to Tower Semiconductors was dismissed by a Tower spokesperson earlier this month. Intel currently employs around 400 people in its Jerusalem R&D center and 300 on the production site. The company has committed to offering positions to affected workers at other Intel plants around the country when the facility closes. The Jerusalem Fab was the first production facility Intel built outside of the US some 22 years ago, and will close as part of a decision the company made to end its 6-inch technology activities all over the world. The "Legacy" product, made at Fab 8 (the Jerusalem facility) has been phased out of the company's portfolio over the last 10 years as it decided to get out of the micro-controller-to-automotive market. Ohayon told The Jerusalem Post recently that the company hasn't invested in the technology or a new product line since. "The Jerusalem population has contributed much to the company but because of the obsolete factory we have been forced to close the production line," Ohayon told the mayor. "We assure that the R&D operation will remain and will employ another 50 people this year."

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