March 02, 2012

Capital Region Ducks Big Blues From Cuts

By: Larry Rulison, Business Writer

Source: Times Union

ALBANY — The Capital Region — especially the University at Albany's College of Nanoscale Science and Engineering — appears to have escaped nearly 1,500 job cuts across North America by IBM.

IBM has a significant presence with hundreds of highly paid scientists at the NanoCollege. The company takes up an entire floor at the school's $150 million NanoFab East building.

And Big Blue also has a large sales force on State Street in downtown Albany.

IBM won't answer questions about the scale or location of the job cuts, which have been estimated by [email protected], an arm of the Communications Workers of America Local 1701, which represents IBM employees.

Employee postings on the [email protected] website indicate show that the cuts have occurred in places like Montreal, Raleigh, N.C., and Rochester, Minn., although it's possible some of the cuts could have occurred at the State Street office.

If anything, IBM is growing at the NanoCollege, which is constructing a new 280,000-square-foot building called NanoFab Xtension at a cost of $365 million, which includes upgrades to critical supporting utilities to power the 50,000-square-foot clean room inside.

That building will be the location for research by the Global 450 Consortium, part of a $4.8 billion computer chip research program announced by Gov. Andrew Cuomo in October that will be supported by IBM, Intel and the NanoCollege. The G450C, as it is called, will help the computer chip industry move from using 300 millimeter silicon wafers to making chips to larger 450 millimeter wafers, a move that is expected to cut costs by a third or more. New York is shouldering $400 million of the costs.

"In accordance with Governor Cuomo's declaration that New York is open for business, IBM will continue to invest and expand at the NanoCollege, including the addition of 800 Global 450 Consortium jobs," said NanoCollege CEO Alain Kaloyeros.

Many, but not all of those jobs, will be with IBM. The consortium and IBM's efforts to shrink transistors in chips will also create 950 jobs at IBM sites in East Fishkill and Yorktown Heights, 450 jobs at SUNY-IT outside Utica, and 300 jobs in Canandaigua outside Rochester at a new NanoCollege lab there.

News of the IBM cuts — which employees say the company calls a "resource action" to avoid the term layoff — angered state Sen. Greg Ball of Patterson, who says he will introduce legislation to end tax incentives for companies that send jobs offshore.

"Back in October, I warned our leaders that we should not reward these global giants with an even larger giveaway of corporate welfare," said Ball, who says that 200 of the IBM cuts are in the Hudson Valley.

IBM has received more than $1 billion in direct and indirect state subsidies since 2000, much of designed to keep jobs in New York and expand semiconductor research facilities here and in East Fishkill. But IBM spokesman Doug Shelton said the company's investment in New York has been much more than that.

"IBM has invested over $6 billion in the East Fishkill site alone, with another $3.6 billion committed over the next five years to East Fishkill and Albany NanoTech to extend our leadership in semiconductor technology," Shelton said. "At more than $10 billion invested since 2000, we believe this is the largest corporate investment in New York state history, and the largest anywhere in IBM's history."