This editorial page has been less than enthusiastic about the GlobalFoundries chip manufacturing plant in the past, based on the huge subsidy it got from the state ($1.2 billion in cash and tax breaks), its location (a forest in rural Saratoga County) and its likely impact (sprawl in the surrounding area). But we love the initiative the company is undertaking to cultivate a regional workforce that can serve it and other technology companies. The initiative is called Tech Valley Connection for Education and Jobs, and it appears to be a serious one.
In fact it's been three years in the making, conceived around the time President Obama first visited the Capital Region with an appearance at Hudson Valley Community College. His goal was to gain support for his plan to develop new manufacturing jobs in this country and train people for them, and he cited GlobalFoundries as an example of the former and HVCC as an example of the latter.
GlobalFoundries officials decided they wanted to be a part of this effort and create a workforce development system that could serve as a model for the nation.
And that's what it and its partner, the Albany-based Center for Economic Growth, are in the process of doing with an ambitious plan that goes far beyond the traditional vo-tec or community college progam. It involves chambers of commerce (20 of them), schools (345 of them, K-12 as well as higher education) and businesses throughout a 13-county region. For students the focus is on projects and hands-on learning; for educators and businesses it's on sharing innovative practices and ideas -- i.e. treating the entire region as a workforce development laboratory.
There are signs that Obama's push for domestic manufacturing is starting to work, with more companies building plants in this country rather than overseas, and some even coming back. Success in the effort will ultimately depend on having well-trained, regional workforces, the kind that GlobalFoundries is trying to build here.