September 28, 2011

Editorial: New Intel Initiative More Good High-Tech News For New York


Source: Daily Gazette

It was an exciting day in Albany yesterday with former President Bill Clinton in town for a conference on economic development, and, at the same time, Gov. Cuomo announcing another high-tech coup for the Capital Region: the coming of Intel to New York state. The computer chip maker will be part of a consortium with some of the biggest names in the industry, including IBM, Samsung and GlobalFoundries, to research and develop the next generation of computer chip. The term “Tech Valley” was met with much mockery, including from us, when local economic developers first dreamed it up in the 1990s. No longer.

Andrew Cuomo will get credit for this latest venture, and he probably deserves some for bringing much-needed leadership to New York state government. But he is more the lucky recipient of what has come before.

The interest and investment in the Capital Region by the high-tech heavy hitters really started with an idea Andrew’s father, Mario, had in 1993, when he was governor. Envisioning a public-private partnership (almost a cliche now, but still a relatively new concept at the time), he created the Center for Advanced Technology at SUNY Albany, which has grown into a major nanotechnology complex. Perhaps the best part is the consortium approach that the place has become known for, because it means funding and success are not dependent on any one company.

The latest deal is good not only for the Capital Region, which will gain 800 technology and 1,500 construction jobs, but other parts of the state that badly need investment, like Utica and Canandaigua. Overall, the companies will invest $4.4 billion at five sites around New York and create 4,500 new jobs, with the state putting $400 million into the nanotech complex over five years for things like energy efficiency and equipment, which it will own.

There are some other potentially significant features of the agreement. One has the companies establishing a $15 million fund to increase the role of minority and women-owned businesses. Another is a private “Made in NY” initiative that has the goal of purchasing $400 million in tools and equipment from New York state manufacturers and suppliers.

In addition, the presence of a large R&D effort for the next generation of computer chips (lighter and capable of carrying more information) makes it more likely that, when the time comes, they will be made in New York. That would mean even more investment and what the state so badly needs: manufacturing jobs. Andrew Cuomo could really show smart leadership by getting a company or companies to build such a plant — and to put it not in a forest, like the GlobalFoundries plant in Saratoga County, but in a vacant industrial site in a city.