June 13 2018

Success Story: GLOBALFOUNDRIES and the Capital Region’s Nanotech Assets

A long-awaited economic impact study released earlier this spring reached a conclusion that by now is not surprising to many in the Capital Region. The report’s authors, a Georgetown University research professor (Charles W. Wessner) and a semiconductor industry attorney, (Thomas R. Howell), said the economic payoffs of New York’s investments in nanotechnology “have been substantial, particularly in regard to employment. Indeed, the benefits for the region in terms of jobs, investment, and growth have exceeded all forecasts.”

Job and Tax Impacts

What is surprising, though, is by just how much these economic impacts have exceeded expectations. The report, which was commissioned by CEG in 2014, summaries these impacts as such:

  • Total direct, indirect, induced, and construction jobs (60,000 to 80,000 jobs)
    • Direct Job Creation (9,000+ jobs)
        • Pledged: 1,200 jobs
        • Actual: 3,500 jobs
        • Preserved: 2,000 jobs (IBM Fishkill)
      • NYS & Other Private
        • 3,400 jobs at CNSE
      • Indirect and induced jobs (20,000 to 60,000 jobs)
        • Construction: 3,500+ jobs (peak level)
      • GLOBALFOUNDRIES Average Pay at Luther Forest (2015): $91,235
      • Local tax payments and fees: (2011-2016): $85 million
      • Local foundation grants (2011-2016): $1 million

CEG’s Role

The 370-page report, titled “Partnering to Grow the New York Regional Nano-Cluster,” goes into great detail on the “regional and state efforts to build out this unique research and manufacturing cluster has resulted in a major success.” The authors note how the remarkable effort to prime a chip fab site and secure a tenant for it was led by Saratoga Economic Development Corp. (SEDC) and its affiliate, the Luther Forest Technology Campus (LFTC). Empire State Development (ESD), National Grid, and the Center for Economic Growth “played key supporting roles, intervening frequently at important intervals with financial support for the local groups’ efforts. Wessner and Howell further noted,

ESD and CEG funds paid for environmental and engineering studies, purchases of land, marketing efforts directed at semiconductor manufacturers, preparation of permit applications, and retention of consultants, and ESD was the principal provider of state incentives for semiconductor companies considering locating in New York.

While GLOBALFOUNDRIES began producing commercial wafers at the Luther Forest Technology Park in Malta in 2012, its development of Fab 8 was actually the culmination of 30 years of work, starting with the 1981 launch of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute’s Center for Integrated Electronics. The effort to create a semiconductor hub in the Capital Region represented “a recent expression of the state’s traditional approach to economic development…characterized by bold, risky projects of outsized scale.” Mission continuity was crucial during this period, considering that it spanned six New York governors and CEG had three presidents and 10 board chairs.


The below timeline quotes from the report to detail CEG’s supporting role in this “transformative” initiative to brand Tech Valley and turn it into a semiconductor hub.

1987-1996: “CEG was created by the Albany-Colonie Chamber of Commerce in 1987. It quickly emerged as a strong advocate for regional collaboration to combat economic decline….CEG played a major role in securing state funding for the rebuilding of Albany International Airport (1996) and the Albany-Rensselaer train station (2002).”

1997: “CEG launched an effort to attract semiconductor manufacturing to the Capital Region and, in an effort to rebrand the region, promoted the expression ‘Tech Valley,’ a term which was initially derided by some but gradually taken more seriously as the region’s remarkable transformation unfolded. CEG’s development efforts received sustained support from National Grid, a power transmission company committed to the long-term economic development of the Capital Region.”

1999: “CEG launched a global outreach program that became branded as ‘“NY Loves Nanotech.’ Beginning in that year, CEG ‘led the region-wide effort to lure a chip production facility.’ CEG ‘worked closely’ with the Saratoga Economic Development Corporation (SEDC) to promote SEDC’s site in Luther Forest, but it also continued to promote alternative sites in the Capital Region, recognizing that Luther Forest ‘isn’t a done deal.’”

2000: “CEG established the Capital Region Semiconductor Task Force, compromised of five committees on industrial outreach, education/workforce, community outreach, site identification, and regional intergovernmental partnerships. CEG was ‘instrumental in marketing’ the College of Nanoscale Science and Engineering [then known as Albany Nanotech], the Luther Forest site, and other…sites.”

2001*: CEG hosted International Sematech and other industry leaders, such as the Semiconductor Industry Association (SIA), at the first annual Albany Symposium. The series was dedicated to highlighting Tech Valley’s R&D assets and semiconductor industry opportunities in the region. The Albany Symposium series were held annually at The Sagamore in Lake George through 2005.

2002*: CEG and NY Loves Nano sponsored the SIA Awards dinner, which regularly attracts more than 400 business and industry executives. CEG and NY Loves Nano have sponsored the SIA Awards dinners each year since then.

2002: “SEDC together with the Center for Economic Growth formally submitted plans for the Technology Campus to the Malta Town Board, requesting rezoning of the land as a so-called Planned Development District (PDD). The proposal envisioned a plant comprised of four buildings housing up to four silicon water fabricating operations on a 125-acre plot within the 1,350-acre campus.”

2004*: CEG undertook a Regional Development Strategy and growth scenario modeling with participation of more than 100 regional leaders to help prepare the region for anticipated growth from technology development in the region.

2004*: CEG unveiled a first-of-its-kind “Technology Roadmap,” a database of universities, tech companies and R&D assets throughout Tech Valley.

2005*: CEG, with financial support from Niagara Mohawk, opened “Tech Valley West,” a satellite office in Silicon Valley. The office allowed the organization “to continue to develop and support relationships and facilitate initiatives in business, academic and government projects.”

2006*: CEG participated in multiple site presentations and meetings with prospect semiconductor companies.

2006: “Advanced Micro Devices (AMD) announces plan for chip fab in Luther Forest.”

2008: “National Grid, CEG, and Mohawk Valley Edge, an economic development organization operating in Oneida County, engaged the Phoenix-based consultancy Semico Research Corporation to prepare a forecast of the employment impact of a hypothetical 300mm wafer fabrication plant in Upstate New York.”

2012: “Construction on expansion of Fab 8 begins.”

2012: “Four BOCES based in the Capital Region formed the Tech Valley STEMsmart Alliance with the support of the Center for Economic Growth. The initiative was designed to enhance STEM education by connecting and scaling up existing but diffused STEM-related programs, partnerships and curricula. The alliance joined the SUNY Empire State STEM Learning Network.”

2013: “The Enlarged School District of Troy received a commitment of $2.8 million from the state to establish a P-TECH program in collaboration with Questor III BOCES. Other local partners included Hudson Valley Community College, Simmons Machine Tool Group, GE Healthcare, Regeneron Pharmaceuticals, and the Center for Economic Growth.”

2013*: CEG partnered with SEDC and the Semiconductor Industry Association to host the World Semiconductor Council meetings in Saratoga Springs, the first time the members of the global semiconductor industry have met in New York State.

2013: “GLOBALFOUNDRIES large-scale operations begin.”

2015*: CEG commissioned a Georgetown University research professor Charles W. Wessner to conduct a comprehensive study on the history and economic impacts of New York’s nano-cluster.

2017*: CEG launched the 87/90 Semiconductor Summit at the Saratoga Springs City Center. This was the first time in more than a decade that CEG has hosted the semiconductor industry in the Capital Region, continuing the tradition started in the early 2000s with the Albany Symposium series at The Sagamore in Lake George.

2018*: CEG supported development of an industrial advisory board and recruitment of former GLOBALFOUNDRIES CEO Doug Grose to serve as director of New York Center for Research, Economic Advancement, Technology, Engineering and Science (NY CREATES) to manage industrial and business relationships at the SUNY Polytechnic Institute.

2018*: “Partnering to Grow the New York Regional Nano-Cluster,” a 370-page report commissioned by CEG, is released.


* Events not specifically mentioned in the Wessner-Howell report.

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