Saratoga County

GlobalFoundries to buy 66 acres in Malta for potential expansion

Plans depend on market demand; existing site employs nearly 3,000, cost $16B to build
Employees mark the 10th anniversary of GlobalFoundries' Malta facility in July 2019.
PHOTOGRAPHER:
Employees mark the 10th anniversary of GlobalFoundries' Malta facility in July 2019.

Categories: Business, News, Saratoga County

MALTA — GlobalFoundries is laying the groundwork for potential future expansion of its computer chip manufacturing facility in Malta.

The company on Monday announced a purchase agreement for about 66 acres adjacent to the Luther Forest site where it operates Fab 8, a $13 billion chip foundry employing nearly 3,000 people.

The site is currently owned by the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority, and is part of STEP, the Saratoga Technology + Energy Park.

Whether GlobalFoundries decides to build anything there will depend on market demand for its products. Its plans will be subject to local approval.

While the company previously secured approval to build a potential second chip fab plant in Luther Forest, it has not exercised the option to build it.

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In 2019, CEO Thomas Caulfield said there was no immediate plan to build a new chip plant in Saratoga County because space was available to increase production at Fab 8 and at its other facilities worldwide.

The STEP campus is separate. If GlobalFoundries decided to build something there, the proposal would need to go through the local review process.

GlobalFoundries said Monday there is no particular type of facility envisioned at the STEP site — the company is positioning itself for future expansion with the purchase.

The privately owned company does not disclose its production levels or capacity, but said its products are in demand and said Fab 8 has been operating without pause or reduction through the entire COVID-19 crisis.

It also would not disclose the time frame of the purchase option. It said the purchase price would be fair market value as determined by an independent appraiser.

STEP has never really taken off for NYSERDA. The 280-acre business park, formerly part of a rocket-testing facility, was created in 2001 and is still mostly vacant.

NYSERDA in 2017 decided to offer the whole site for sale and then in 2018 decided to offer it piecemeal.

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Malta Supervisor Darren O’Connor said Monday’s announcement was good news for the town.

“We’re hoping that this develops into something great,” he said. “We’re just thrilled.”

He did not, however, know what might be built there.

“Exactly how this is going to pan out, this is what we’d have to discuss,” O’Connor said. “We’re hoping that this develops into something great.”

In July 2019, GlobalFoundries marked the 10-year anniversary of the facility’s original owner breaking ground on what would be one of the largest private-sector construction projects in the nation in that era.

The financial investment in the project has more than tripled and the workforce has more than doubled over original projections. It received $1.37 billion in state subsidies plus millions more in tax breaks.

In 2018, the company halted its development of the next generation of smaller, faster computer chips. It cut 450 employees, many of them in research and development. But it also continued hiring for other positions, and in 2019 created a paid apprenticeship program for production workers.

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