Board OKs GlobalFoundries center plan
MALTA A proposed technology development center could bring total employment at GlobalFoundries Fab 8 to 3,000, company officials said.
That’s nearly twice as many people as work at the computer chip factory today, and a higher estimate than town officials had previously heard.
“We just keep growing as the business plan continues to change,” said Steve Groseclose, the company’s director of risk management, sustainability and real estate.
The town Planning Board approved a site plan Tuesday for the 557,000-square-foot technology development center, which would include cleanroom space for developing new computer chip micro-technology.
Fab 8 is currently ramping up to commercial chip production at its first plant and has about 1,600 employees — a number expected to grow to 1,800 by year’s end, as fit-up continues toward bringing total cleanroom manufacturing space to 300,000 square feet.
The new research center, along with a new administration building still under construction but now partially occupied, would mean 1,200 more jobs, Groseclose said.
GlobalFoundries officials cautioned they’re not yet committed to building the research center within the Fab 8 complex, though they said getting town approval was a critical step.
“The site plan is a very key approval,” Groseclose said.
The 3,000 employment figure is “not a hard number yet. It’s what we’re using for planning purposes,” said Travis Bullard, the company’s spokesman.
Still, town Supervisor Paul Sausville reacted with excitement.
“I think that’s great news,” he said. “They initially promised 1,465 jobs, and this is twice that. It’s all about jobs, stimulating the economy and creating jobs for our young people so they don’t have to leave here.”
The proposed technology development center is part of what’s been a rapid expansion since GlobalFoundries broke ground for Fab 8 in June 2009 at the Luther Forest Technology Campus. The announced investment then was $4.2 billion, but that total has since grown to $6.9 billion.
The initial manufacturing building was expanded during construction from 210,000 square feet to 300,000 square feet, and the cleanroom expansion is now being filled.
Earlier this summer, the company got town permission to expand its gas, electric and other on-site utility infrastructure. Then, three weeks ago, the company announced plans for the technology development center, which would include 90,000 square feet of additional cleanroom space, in a building to be located just behind the second administration building.
Company officials have not given a cost estimate for the technology center, but it would be in the billions of dollars, Bullard acknowledged.
“This is a significant project, on the order of magnitude of what’s already there,” he said Wednesday. “For the site, this is essentially the second manufacturing facility.”
The town zoning approval allows for up to three manufacturing facilities on the 223-acre site.
The additional jobs at the research center would be for highly paid scientists, researchers and technicians, Bullard said.
If the project goes forward, there would also be 400 to 500 temporary construction jobs, Groseclose said.
M+W Group of Watervliet, the international high-tech construction company that designed and built the first fabrication plant, has been hired to design the new building.
“We continue to drive forward and prepare to commit ourselves if we see the window of opportunity,” Groseclose said. “We’re still in the process as a company of figuring out how this fits into our strategic planning.”
Bullard said the company won’t be seeking a customized state incentive package like it had for the initial manufacturing building. The state is giving GlobalFoundries about $1.4 billion in cash and tax credits under a 2006 deal between the state and Advanced Micro Devices, which later sold its manufacturing facilities to GlobalFoundries. Under the deal, the company promised to create 1,465 jobs.
Because the site was originally approved under the state’s Empire Zone incentive program, Bullard said the new facility would qualify for benefits, though the program is otherwise expired. The Empire Zone gives major tax credits for job-creating investments.
A spokeswoman for Empire State Development confirmed Wednesday the new GlobalFoundries investment would fall under the Empire Zone program.
GlobalFoundries could also seek additional tax breaks through the Saratoga County Industrial Development Agency, Bullard said, “the same as anyone who is looking to locate in New York state.”
Even with the new job estimates, the town Planning Board found GlobalFoundries is still within the terms of previous town environmental impact reviews. Traffic mitigation measures like the Round Lake bypass were built on the assumption the Luther Forest Technology Campus would have many thousands of jobs.
“The environmental assessment review assumed full build-out of 10,000 jobs, They are still well within that,” Sausville said.
GlobalFoundries is headquartered in California’s Silicon Valley and has other manufacturing facilities in Germany and Singapore, but Malta is its only U.S. manufacturing site. Research personnel based in Austin, Texas, were transferred to Malta starting in 2010.
“We’re already doing technology development here,” Groseclose said, citing the company’s recent announcement of a new 14-nanometer chip designed for mobile computing devices. “That was developed here. That’s something to be really proud of.”