Saratoga County

AMD expects to make more hires

The planned Advanced Micro Devices computer chip plant here is now expected to employ 1,465 people,

The planned Advanced Micro Devices computer chip plant here is now expected to employ 1,465 people, or about 250 more than previously expected, a company official said Monday night.

“The staffing will be greater than we originally anticipated,” said Terry Caudell, project manager for AMD’s proposed $3.2 billion computer chip factory, planned for the Luther Forest Technology Campus.

A new traffic study submitted to the town Monday is based on the plant having 1,465 employees. “That is a reflection of our current thinking on employment,” Caudell told the Town Board.

On Monday, AMD filed a request for zoning amendments and an environmental impact review statement with the Malta Town Board, launching the public review of AMD’s much-anticipated plan.

And while the company hasn’t made a final commitment to build the plant, AMD officials talked very much as though they expect to go forward.

The company would like to start site preparation in July, and be ready to start construction by Jan. 1, said Matthew Jones, AMD’s local land use lawyer.

If the plans do go forward, many analysts see it as a transforming event for the Capital Region economy.

Caudell, who is AMD’s director of wafer manufacturing strategies, said the company has drawn up long-range plans for up to three chip plants in Luther Forest.

If that happens, it could bring total employment in the future to nearly 4,500 people. Two of the plants would be in the Malta part of the campus, and one in Stillwater, company officials said.

AMD hasn’t made a final commitment to build any of the plants, and there’s been some skepticism because of AMD’s financial losses in 2007 and a steep drop in its stock price since plans for the plant were first announced in 2006.

The company’s only other chip plants are in Dresden, Germany, and it isn’t looking anywhere other than Luther Forest for its next plant, Caudell said.

Caudell said the application isn’t a final commitment, but the company wouldn’t be spending on the application if it didn’t expect to proceed.

“We have a forward-looking vision for AMD’s manufacturing strategy that is independent from the vagaries of the stock market,” Caudell said.

AMD, headquartered in Sunnyvale, Calif., is the world’s No. 2 microprocessor maker, but is far behind industry leader Intel, and the two companies have been in a bitter price war that has caused some of AMD’s losses.

Under a $1.2 billion incentive package from New York state announced in June 2006, AMD has until July 2009 to break ground. The grant agreement says the company will guarantee 1,205 jobs, and that was the previous publicly discussed estimate.

The applications filed Monday are in keeping with the timetable for a 2009 groundbreaking, company officials said.

Moving ahead

“We are moving ahead to do everything we can to meet our commitments under the grant dispersal agreement,” Caudell said.

Town officials expect an extensive review over the coming months.

“It’s the beginning of a process reviewing an application that will lead to the landing of AMD in the town of Malta,” said Town Supervisor Paul J. Sausville.

Based on paperwork formally submitted to the town Monday, the Town Board is being asked to refer proposed amendments to the Luther Forest Technology Campus zoning to the town and Saratoga County planning boards next Monday, beginning the official review process.

Jones said the zoning law written in 2004 for a generic computer chip factory needs to be adjusted to meet AMD’s specific plans.

Among the changes is that instead of the approved four plants of no more than 800,000 square feet each, AMD wants approval for three plants of up to 890,000 square feet each.

Among those pleased by the presentation was county Water Authority Chairman John E. Lawler, the Waterford town supervisor.

The water authority, which will be bringing water from the upper Hudson River, has been dealing with public skepticism about its customer base, even as the $67 million system is already under construction.

But AMD now says each plant will need 3.1 million gallons of water per day, about 650,000 gallons more than the technology campus has previously agreed to buy. The authority’s business plan says it needs to sell 3 million gallons per day in total to break even.

“They’re looking at 9 million gallons per day when they’re done,” Lawler said after the presentation. “This is tremendous news.”

The water system is to be completed in 2009. If AMD also starts construction that year, the first plant wouldn’t open until 2011, and then not come to full production until several years after that.

The company is asking for an environmental review schedule that would have a public hearing May 5, and a final decision on environmental impacts by June 30.

But company officials conceded that schedule is actually up to the town.

“I see your timetable, in some ways, as a best-case scenario,” said town Councilman Peter Klotz. “At the end of the day, it will be our decision, based on your homework.”

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