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Posted: April 1, 2008

Study: $650 million nanotechnology plant would transform upstate New York economy

(Nanowerk News) If New York state invests $650 million in an upstate nanotechnology facility, the effect on the region’s economy could be more than $5.6 billion over 10 years, according to a study released Tuesday.
“Timing is everything, and now is the time for New York to move forward with this,” said Sherry Garber, a senior vice president at Semico Research Corporation, which conducted the study.
The study, which was commissioned by Mohawk Valley EDGE, National Grid and the Center for Economic Growth, doesn’t specifically name a site for the facility, but a parcel owned by SUNYIT in Marcy has been marketed for such a venture.
EDGE President Steve DiMeo said his staff has been aggressively marketing the Marcy site to nanotech companies on three continents. Not only have they followed leads in the U.S., they’ve gone to Germany and Asia as well, he said.
If a center was built, it could give rise to numerous other businesses and ultimately bring as many as 5,500 jobs to the area over 10 years, the $69,000 study said.
According to the study, Upstate New York has a lot to offer a nanotechnology company, including:
  • The area’s educational institutions, skilled work force and good transportation infrastructure.
  • Proximity to the University at Albany NanoCollege and IBM in the Southern Tier was seen as a plus.
  • The growth in sales for a number of products that use computer chips, including everything from cell phones to laptops and televisions, so the industry is healthy and expanding.
  • U.S. goods are cheaper for foreigners to buy, so they are more competitive.
  • SUNYIT location
    SUNYIT interim President Peter Spina, who attended the presentation of the study Tuesday in Utica, said he had been “favorably impressed with the potential” for getting a company to locate at the site.
    He said he liked the idea that his college could provide programs for young people looking to go into the nanotech field and that so many spin-off companies could also be created.
    “I think it could happen here, and I think we are right to aim high,” he said. “I don’t think we ought to be looking for consolation prizes.”
    The SUNYIT site was passed over in June 2006 by Sunnyvale, Calif.-based Advanced Micro Devices. The company chose another property near Albany.
    Soon after then-Gov. Eliot Spitzer entered office in 2007, Empire State Development’s Downstate Chairman Pat Foye questioned the state’s investments in a nanotech center planned for the Albany area, Dimeo said.
    That’s when EDGE and the other decided the study was needed, he said. Foye resigned recently, after Spitzer left office amid a prostitution scandal.
    The study was presented Monday to Empire State Development officials in Albany. Empire State Development officials couldn’t be reached Tuesday.
    Preparing site
    State Sen. Joseph Griffo, R-Rome, said the state Senate had previously appropriated $4 million for site programming in Marcy.
    “We’re working as a delegation to secure additional money in order to make that site ready for potential business,” he said. “RoAnn (Destito) and I have decided that this is a priority, so we’re advocating and doing our best to secure that funding,” Griffo said.
    He said that they’re advocating for up to $20 million for the project.
    Assemblywoman RoAnn Destito, D-Rome, said she believed in the site’s potential as well.
    Asked about the likelihood of the state putting up the needed $650 million, she said there would have to be an interested company first.
    “I don’t think the state is prepared to do anything until there is a real company,” she said.
    The $650 million figure from the EDGE study does not include any tax breaks or other benefits that might also be conferred by the state.
    The state put together a $1.2 billion offer, including $650 million in cash, for the site chosen by AMD, which is in Saratoga County’s Luther Forest.
    Meanwhile, EDGE is working with local governments to make the site even more ready. A wetlands permit is in the works and funding is in place to improve its transportation infrastructure.
    Source: GateHouse News Service (Elizabeth Cooper)