The Silicon Valley chipmaker already operates one computer-chip factory in Camas. The company owns an additional 16 acres on the property and has long considered a second factory -- known in the industry as a fab.
Thursday, at a meeting of the Columbia River Economic Development Council, a Linear Technology representative told attendees that the company is now very close to a decision to proceed, according to two people familiar with the discussion.
Linear already has close to 300 employees in Camas. A new fab would bring investment in the hundreds of millions of dollars and dozens or hundreds of new jobs. One source familiar with Linear's plans, who did not want to be identified for fear of jeopardizing the plan, said a formal announcement could come by fall.
At the company's headquarters in Milpitas, Calif., spokesman John Hamburger said no announcement is imminent and that Linear has all the production capacity it needs for the immediate future. He said that Camas remains a productive operation for the company and that it would receive strong consideration for any expansion.
"When we decide to expand, it's our premier, our largest wafer-fabrication facility and we are very happy with the way things are going there," Hamburger said.
CREDC President Mike Bomar declined to discuss what was said at Thursday's meeting but said his organization is working on transportation improvements that could benefit Linear and other companies looking to expand in east Clark County.
"Things are very positive with them right now," Bomar said, "so we're working with them to see how we can be helpful on that front."
Camas Mayor Scott Higgins would not speculate on the Linear's intentions, but said an additional fab has always been a possibility.
"It's long been part of Linear's plans to expand here and as the economy improves we're hopeful that day will come for them," Higgins said.
Linear makes relatively low-tech analog chips that nonetheless play key roles in a variety of advanced electronics for industrial, aerospace, automotive and consumer applications.
After two relatively sluggish years, Linear is now growing strongly. Revenues climbed 10 percent last quarter and are up 7 percent through the first nine months of the company's fiscal year.
Linear reports financial results from its fiscal fourth quarter on Tuesday.
-- Mike Rogoway; twitter: @rogoway; 503-294-7699