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Upstate New York’s tech hub application due next week

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BUFFALO, N.Y. — This week, Saratoga County-based GlobalFoundries announced a plan to invest $12 billion in private and public funds over the next decade to triple its capacity to meet a growing demand for advanced semiconductor microchips.

U.S. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer has made it his goal to make upstate New York a center for the burgeoning industry.

“I am trying in every corner of the state to get new tech jobs because these tech jobs are a future,” Schumer said Tuesday.

However, while the Capital Region has GlobalFoundries and an even larger investment is planned by Micron in Central New York, the western side of the state has not seen an investment at this level. Invest Buffalo Niagara President and CEO Tom Kucharski said the region, right now, doesn’t have the same access to large, properly zoned sites with the infrastructure for these kinds of projects.

“Believe it or not, even though we were working in this industry, our sites are now too small to attract a major fab but we can be just as successful if not more, taking advantage of our location and the sites that we do have,” Kucharski said.

He said the Rochester and Buffalo regions, as a result, are pivoting to take advantage of the science, supply chain and labor opportunities the investments elsewhere in upstate will represent. The 1,250-acre Science, Technology and Advanced Manufacturing Park in Genesee County already has the commitment of two major tenants, Plug Power and Edwards Vacuum, but Kucharski said there’s room for more.

“If we filled up the STAMP site, it would have the same job impact, if not more as the GlobalFoundries announcement,” he said.

With Schumer’s advocacy, in October, an upstate super-region from Buffalo to Syracuse was one of 31 regions in the country to win a federal tech hub designation with its focus on semiconductors. By the end of business next Friday, it will submit an application to be one of five to 10 that could receive roughly $75 million a piece with the potential for much more.

Kucharski said this stage in the competition includes specific plans.

“Here’s what we’re going to do. Here’s how we’re going to do it. Here’s how much it’s going to cost. Here’s what we’re putting in and here’s what we expect from you,” he said.

Schumer said he’s very hopeful the region will come out on top with the need for microchips only growing.

“We’ve got a long way before over-saturation,” the majority leader said.

Kucharski said the GlobalFoundries announcement should only help the bid and he’s not ruling out a similar announcement in Western New York at some point.

“If we build up our capabilities here to be able to capture the supply chain and the science chain, that will give us enough time to work on a site that’s big enough for one of these offerings in the future,” Kucharski said.

He believes industries that use semiconductors, which range from auto to aeronautics to defense and smart mobile, will also be attracted to Western New York for its proximity to GlobalFoundries and Micron, smaller shovel ready sites, and available well-trained labor pool.

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