Schenectady County

Companies to chip in for jobs

Five of the world’s leading high-tech companies announced Tuesday they will invest $4.4 billion in t

Five of the world’s leading high-tech companies announced Tuesday they will invest $4.4 billion in the state’s computer chip industry, an undertaking they say will create 4,400 jobs and retain 2,500 jobs.

The announcement came as Gov. Andrew Cuomo kicked off a statewide conference for his 10 Regional Economic Development Councils at The Egg. He called the news of the five-year investment, funded by Intel, IBM, GlobalFoundries, TSMC and Samsung, “a really, really big deal.”

The business collaboration, known as the Global 450 Consortium, aims to develop the latest advance in computer chip technology — the 450-millimeter wafer. Wafers are the material from which the computer chips are created.

The current generation of chips is the 300-millimeter wafer, with the 450-millimeter wafer potentially allowing for twice as many chips to be processed and representing a computing power of 1 billion calculations in 1-billionth of a second. The new wafer is supposed to lower production costs and reduce environmental impact.

Development of this new technology could lead to the construction of a $10 billion factory in New York state to manufacture the 450-millimeter wafers.

Cuomo hailed the news as evidence of a changing perception about New York’s business climate. He argued that New York had always possessed the resources, a capable workforce and infrastructure to attract large investments, but said the state now has a government that will encourage businesses to use those resources.

“These companies could have gone anywhere on the globe. … This is going to happen [in New York],” said Cuomo, as evidence of the state’s newfound international competitiveness. The consortium considered countries in Europe, Asia and the Middle East for the project, but ultimately chose New York.

The state’s international competitiveness was demonstrated in 2009 when GlobalFoundries broke ground in Malta with its Fab 8 campus.

“We do see the signs that New York is open for business,” said Brian Krzanich of Intel, which will establish its 450mm East Coast headquarters in Albany to oversee the project.

The project is expected to create 2,500 high-tech jobs, with an average salary of $100,000. Approximately 1,900 construction jobs will be created and 2,500 existing jobs will be retained, according to the plan.

In the Capital Region, 800 high-tech jobs will be created at the SUNY College for Nanoscale and Science Engineering in Albany, 1,500 construction jobs will be created and 900 jobs will be retained. Jobs will also be created or retained in Canandaigua, East Fishkill and Utica.

As part of the project, New York state will contribute $400 million over five years to the nanoscale school in Albany. While the money will support the goals of the Global 450 Consortium, the private corporations will not receive any of the money and all the tools and equipment acquired as a result of the state’s contribution will be owned by SUNY CNSE.

According to John Kelly III, senior vice president and director of IBM Research, the project was the result of “a special triangle,” which he said was formed by a team of business, government and education leaders. Noting IBM’s long history in the state, Kelly promised that relationship would continue. Kelly noted that with a $3.6 billion stake in the project, IBM is the biggest investor in the Global 450 Consortium.

State Sen. Hugh Farley, R-Niskayuna, described the investment as the “gold standard” of doing economic development correctly.

“What a coup for New York state,” he said, assuring the crowd of about 1,000 people at The Egg on Tuesday morning that there would be more to come through the governor’s Regional Economic Development Councils. “You haven’t seen anything yet.”

The 10 regional councils, competing with each other for $200 million in state funds and tax incentives, are part of Cuomo’s emphasis on changing the way New York pursues economic development. On Tuesday, he referred to the Global 450 Consortium as the type of partnership he is hoping to see from the regional councils.

The $4.4 billion investment includes a $15 million fund to expand opportunities for minority- and female-owned businesses.

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