New York: High-Tech Growth

Tapping into fast-growing technology and energy sectors, Gov. David Paterson’s economic development initiatives are helping to strengthen the state’s manufacturing base while attracting new relocations and expansions.

With a goal of becoming a world leader in the emerging business sectors of high-technology and energy, New York State has passed new economic development initiatives, such as the Empire State Economic Development Fund (EDF), the Manufacturing Assistance Program (MAP), the Empire Zone Program (EZ), and the Upstate Revitalization Fund, which are spurring innovation and job growth.

New York’s high-tech industry received a boost in July when IBM received a $140-million grant from the state to advance nanotechnology and semiconductor R&D, leveraging a more than ten-to-one private investment of $1.5 billion from IBM. Nanotechnology and semiconductors are becoming increasingly important to meet the growing demand for advanced computer systems, telecommunication devices, and highly complex and multifunctional digital consumer electronic products.

This investment will create three projects that include expanding IBM’s operations at the Albany Nano Tech; creating a new,
advanced 120,000- square-foot semiconductor packaging R&D center in Upstate; and upgrading IBM’s East Fishkill facility with state-of-the-art technology. Overall, the investment is saving 1,000 jobs and creating 325 more.

Dr. John E. Kelly III, IBM senior vice president and director of research, recently noted that “these new investments will spur
continuing advancements in nanotechnology and semiconductor research and development—including new efforts in semiconductor packaging—propelling IBM chip innovations and solidifying the state’s reputation as a high-technology leader.”

The state’s economic development initiatives also are helping manufacturers keep up with the demands of a high-tech future. In January, Welch Allyn, a global manufacturer of medical products in Central New York, received a $1.2-million grant and a $300,000 MAP grant from Empire State Development (ESD), the state’s chief economic development agency, for a $30-million expansion project. The project includes relocating its headquarters to Skaneateles Falls, NY and renovating an existing facility into a high-tech center.

Welch Allyn’s development into a high-tech center will help the facility capitalize on the increasing global market demand for the company’s digitally enabled patient monitoring, electronic vital signs and diagnostic cardiology product offerings. The project will retain the company’s workforce of nearly 1,125 employees and will add another 175 workers over five years.

Welch Allyn also announced plans to open the Richard W. Newman Center for Innovation at Syracuse University’s Computer Applications and Software Engineering Center. The Innovation Center will help the company accelerate the product development process and fill its product pipeline faster.

In August, Impress USA, a global leader in the consumer metal packaging industry, announced it will build a new manufacturing plant in Conklin in Upstate New York. The project will bring 75 new, full-time employees during the first phase of construction and initial operations.

Impress is receiving $750,000 in capital grants from ESD, $750,000 from the Office of Small Cities, and $650,000 from the Broome County Industrial Development Agency. The project also is eligible to receive tax incentives through the state’s EZ Program, which was created to stimulate economic growth through a variety of tax incentives designed to attract new businesses to the state and to enable existing businesses to expand and create more jobs. Today, there are over 9,800 certified businesses employing more than 380,000 people in 82 Empire Zones throughout the state.

“We continue to see good growth opportunities in the USA,” says Francis Labbe, CEO of Impress. “We had a wide choice of locations for this major development, but we have been so impressed by the energy and the support offered by the State of New York that our decision to locate the plant here was easy.”

Within the same month of Impress USA’s decision, SCA Tissue North America, one of the three largest producers of tissue products used away from home in North America, announced a $20-million expansion project at their facility in Glen Falls. The company received a MAP capital grant worth $500,000 to help offset the costs of purchasing new machinery and equipment for the new facility. In addition to retaining 294 full-time positions, this expansion will provide considerable benefits to New York’s economy—SCA Tissue’s total purchases of goods and services in Upstate New York exceeded $35 million in 2007.

In June, Dresser-Rand, the largest global supplier of rotating equipment solutions to the worldwide oil and gas, chemical, petrochemical and process industries, announced it is investing $14.7 million to build a new state-of-the-art technology center in Olean in Upstate. Due to its location in New York’s “Empire Zone,” the company is eligible for millions in tax credits and other incentives.

“As one of the largest private sector employers in the Southern Tier and Western New York with more than 2,300 employees, Dresser-Rand’s decision to retain and expand its operations in Olean was critical,” says Gov. David Paterson. “With ESD support, we are helping ensure that Dresser-Rand is able to compete in the world marketplace.”

Dresser-Rand previously had considered moving its technology staff and other personnel back to its headquarters in Houston. However, due to support from New York it decided to stay, and is now receiving a $2-million grant from the state, resulting in the creation of 120 new jobs.

Industry Growing Green Upstate

In the U.S., growth of the high-tech “green” industry is expected to skyrocket. According to a recent report by Management Information Services, an internationally recognized economic research and management consulting firm with expertise in economic forecasting and labor markets, this industry will create up to $4.5 trillion in revenue and 40 million new jobs in the U.S. by 2030.

Gov. David Paterson’s $700-million Upstate Revitalization Fund is helping support green market development activities and job training projects in the region. Currently, nearly 1,800 firms and 65,000 jobs are focused on energy and environmental systems in Upstate, representing more than 11% of all private sector jobs. Green job growth in the region was 1.9% versus 1.4% in other sectors between 2003 and 2008.

In May 2008, Globe Specialty Metals, Inc., a leader in silicon manufacturing used to create solar panels, announced it was investing $60 million to reopen and expand its manufacturing facilities in Niagara Falls.

Globe received an economic development package from ESD and the New York Power Authority (NYPA) that will provide Globe with 40 megawatts of hydropower over five years. The hydropower used to produce solar grade silicon at Globe’s facility in turn will be used to create zero-emission solar energy, a truly “green-to-green” energy industry. The project will create 500 new jobs and is expected to possibly attract hundreds more in the future.

As part of their agreement with the state, 25% of Globe’s Upgraded Metallurgical Grade Silicon (UMG-Si) production from their new Niagara Falls facility will be used to attract new solar panel manufacturers to New York State, providing a foundation for New York to become a leader in the solar use and production industry.

Alan Kestenbaum Chairman and CEO of Globe, says: “This project will add needed capacity of silicon for solar grade silicon and will be a cornerstone for New York State to realize the goal of making New York a major center for production and research for renewable energy and in particular solar energy products.”  

Because Globe is located in New York’s “Empire Zone” economic development area, the company can receive up to $25 million in benefits for up to 10 years.

Further enriching Upstate’s growing green industry is the Saratoga Technology and Energy Park (STEP), which was established in 2001. STEP is a 280-acre site in Malta, master-planned for 1.25 million square feet of office, lab, and light manufacturing facilities. The tech park is a joint effort of the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA), the University at Albany, and the Saratoga Economic Development Corporation.

The tech park provides new businesses with the full spectrum of financial, technological, and business resources needed to develop the new cleaner-energy technologies of the future. It also offers the potential to attract more companies and create well-paying jobs in the region.

The region is also home to the Center for Advanced Technology, which supports university-industry collaborative research and technology transfer in commercial relevant technologies, as well as several green technology job training programs. Onandaga Community College has received a $700,000-grant to develop a “green collar” training program, and Morrisville State College has received a $2-million federal grant to develop a training center for liquid biofuels.