New York, the Silicon Valley of the East?
Following two major announcements by technology firms last week that they plan to invest in manufacturing and research and development facilities in New York – creating a projected 5,400 jobs in the process – that assertion may not be far off the mark.
At a “New York Open for Business” statewide conference Sept. 27 in Albany, Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced a joint $4.4 billion investment by five technology companies, including $3.6 billion by IBM Corp., to develop advanced computer chip technology in New York state.
The investment has the potential to create 2,500 high-tech, high-paying positions throughout the state, including some 950 at IBM’s Yorktown Heights and remaining East Fishkill facilities.
In addition, the project could create up to 1,900 construction jobs at various locations in the state and would result in the retention of 2,500 existing jobs in East Fishkill, Albany and Canandaigua.
“These companies could have gone anywhere on the globe,” Cuomo said in remarks following the announcement. “They’re everywhere, they’re in every country. This is a major investment – $4.4 billion is a lot of money even for them. They are investing right here in New York.”
The five companies – IBM, Intel Corp., Samsung Electronics Co., Globalfoundries Inc. and Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. – make up a group that calls itself the Global 450 Consortium, named after its primary goal of developing 450-milimeter wafers.
Translation: wafers, or semiconductors, capable of holding more than twice the number of chips than the 300mm wafers currently in use, thus drastically reducing the cost of the technology and placing New York state in the center of semiconductor development.
In a separate announcement Sept. 23 in Poughkeepsie, the Chinese company Linuo Solar Group Co. said it bought IBM’s 160-acre West Campus in East Fishkill and plans to invest $100 million in solar manufacturing and to hire 1,000 employees over the next three to five years.
With the arrival of Linuo, which was founded in 1994 and now is worth $1.3 billion, Hudson Valley has “the potential to be the Silicon Valley of the East,” said Dennis Murray, president of Marist College and co-chairman of the Mid-Hudson Regional Economic Development Council.
The announcements may signal an emerging trend, said Hudson Valley Economic Development Corp. CEO Michael Oates.
“I think it’s a strong indication that this is really a spot where companies are going to continue to look at and want to invest in,” he said. “We have the workforce, we have the infrastructure, we have the properties and all of those pieces came together.”
The commitment by IBM sends a particularly powerful message, said Marissa Brett, executive director of economic development for the Westchester County Association.
“We talk about the idea that we want to go after the high-technology jobs and this is a clear example of how New York is winning those high-technology jobs,” said Brett, who was in Albany for last week’s conference. “It really sends a message because IBM is headquartered here. They’ve been here since the beginning and it shows their commitment to staying here as well.”
The New York Open for Business campaign “is about changing the perception of this state,” Cuomo said. “New York had a reputation of being anti-business … and the truth is, I believe there was a certain New York arrogance for a number of years.”
But over the last nine months, he said, he has fought to change that reputation by encouraging public-private investments aimed at bringing companies to New York.
In the case of Linuo, that comes in the form of $6 million in Excelsior state tax credits that can be redeemed if the company reaches specific job creation numbers.
For the Global 450 Consortium, while the governor’s office has said that no private company will receive funds as part of the agreement, Cuomo said the state would invest $400 million in the SUNY College for Nanoscale and Science Engineering in Albany over five years, aimed at nanotechnology innovations on the state level to go along with private-sector efforts.
“The best is here in New York and I’m tired of watching our young people get on planes … thinking they have to find their future somewhere else when their future is right here in New York,” Cuomo said.