Obama visit moved to NanoCollege
Logistical issues force change from Fab 8
President Barack Obama will be delivering a speech on the economy Tuesday at the University at Albany College of Nanoscience and Engineering.
Logistical problems made it impossible to host the visit at the GlobalFoundries’ Fab 8 in Malta, as originally announced Thursday.
The visit to the 800,000-square-foot complex on Fuller Road, which represents an unconventional teamwork between government, private industry and education, is expected to highlight the importance of investing in the country’s high-tech manufacturing industry. In Obama’s State of the Union address this year, he stressed the need to develop high-tech manufacturing jobs and train a capable workforce.
U.S. Rep. Paul Tonko, D-Amsterdam, said that recipe for success has already been realized at the NanoCollege and he believes the president wants to shine a light on this model for the rest of the country to see.
A statement from the White House highlighted the fact that the NanoCollege’s NanoTech Complex is a “fully integrated research, development, prototyping, and educational facility” that includes on-site corporate partners like IBM, Intel, GlobalFoundries and Applied Materials. It also noted that officials from GlobalFoundries will join Obama on the visit.
Neither the White House nor GlobalFoundries would address the “logistical reasons” that prevented Fab 8 from hosting Obama. It is not clear when the company learned it wouldn’t be hosting a visit, as a spokeswoman for GlobalFoundries still maintained Fab 8 was the host early Friday afternoon.
A spokesman for the NanoCollege did not respond to multiple inquiries on Friday about the planned visit.
The president is expected to arrive in Albany shortly before noon and give remarks in the early afternoon.
Tonko said the federal government could learn a lot from the model in Albany, which came about through heavy involvement of state money and state politicians. He said the federal government was now playing “catch up” and was trying to find partners to develop similar successes to reinvigorate the country’s manufacturing industries.
U.S. Rep. Chris Gibson, R-Kinderhook, who teamed up with Tonko to announce Thursday that Obama was heading to Fab 8, wasn’t disappointed Friday that the trip had been moved out of his district, as he had always viewed the visit as a regional success.
“The College of Nanoscale Science and Engineering is the centerpiece of ‘Tech Valley.’ An economic driver in our region,” Gibson said in a statement.
On Thursday, the campus was the focus of a CBS Evening News segment, which held it up as a thriving success story at a time when there aren’t a lot of those in the economy. The report highlighted the fact that the NanoCollege employs 2,700 people and is responsible for nearly 13,000 related jobs.
NanoCollege CEO and Senior Vice President Alain Kaloyeros, who spearheaded the facility’s creation in 2004, has previously said he believes an expansion now under way will boost employment to 3,500 by 2015.
The expansion is on Washington Avenue and will house the Global 450 Consortium, with labs and clean-room space to potentially develop the next generation of silicon wafers that are expected to increase industrial efficiency. The site is expected to be completed by the end of the year, and the installation of semiconductor manufacturing tools could begin in the fall.
This project is part of a $4.4 billion public-private partnership announced last fall and included a $400 million investment by the state. Dean Fuleihan, executive vice president for strategic partnerships at the NanoCollege, previously characterized the project as a “tremendous advantage.”
This will be the president’s third visit to the Capital Region since taking office three years ago, with a visit in 2009 to Hudson Valley Community College in Troy and a tour of the General Electric plant in Schenectady last year.
Tonko said the repeat visits hammer home the idea that this is a successful region and are an argument for continued investment.