May 11, 2007

International SEMATECH Move Expected To Transform Local Economy

By: by Richard A. D'Errico, The Business Review


International Sematech will move its headquarters from Austin, Texas, to Albany state officials said May 9.

New York will contribute $300 million for the move. International Sematech is the manufacturing research and development arm of Sematech. Sematech, a consortium of microchip manufacturers, will remain based in Austin.

The $300 million will go to the University at Albany, which already hosts an International Sematech research operation.

The deal is still being finalized, although International Sematech will begin moving some personnel to Albany in July, said Alain Kaloyeros. Kaloyeros is the chief administrative officer of the state University at Albany's College of Nanoscale Science and Engineering, located at Albany NanoTech.

Gov. Eliot Spitzer said it is a seven-year agreement and the $300 million in state funding will be available over five years to help Sematech buy equipment.

International Sematech will spend $300 million of its own money and Sematech member companies are providing another $100 million.

Kaloyeros said International Sematech will also create five research centers across the state.

"We wouldn't qualify this as trying to take them out of Austin. It's more trying to build an anchor tenant here," he said. "We didn't care about what they do in Austin. We're all more interested in having their headquarters and operations be in the region."

Kaloyeros called International Sematech the "darling for research, development and commercialization globally."

"So having them locate here has significant technical, commercial (and) business implications for the college, but more significantly, the region and the state."

Kaloyeros said International Sematech will create 450 new jobs and support 500 companies across the state. International Sematech already has 250 employees at the Albany NanoTech campus.

Kaloyeros said he expects the region's population to grow as a result of International Sematech's arrival.

"This region has become smarter about growth than Austin, so I think the growth is going to be gradual and more systematic," he said. "Eventually, this region, I hope will double in population."

Spitzer called on the state Legislature to move rapidly to approve the $300 million during the final six weeks of the 2007 legislative session.

"This is something that is critical to continuing to build on a foundation that is emerging in the Hudson Valley in terms of the tech economy we want to attract," Spitzer said. "Let's pass the bill, and I think we are on the cusp of doing this."

Spitzer's remarks followed a meeting with the leaders of the state Assembly and Senate.

The Assembly will introduce the governor's bill immediately, said Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver (D-Manhattan).

International Sematech member companies work to improve chip-manufacturing technology.

Five years ago, International Sematech first located in Albany. Many in the region consider that to be the seminal step in the city's transition from "Smallbany" to Tech Valley.

At that time, there was only one building at the Albany NanoTech research complex at UAlbany; now there are three and a fourth is on the way. There are more than 1,300 employees on the campus.

The state provided $210 million for construction, equipment and specialized tools for Sematech North, as the UAlbany facility was known.

Sematech and its member companies -- which include IBM, Intel, and AMD -- provided the remaining $193 million for the center.

AMD has announced plans to build a $3.2 billion computer microchip plant in the Luther Forest Technology Campus in Malta, N.Y.