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Development at SUNY Poly Marcy campus could help nanocenter recovery

The nanocenter at SUNY Polytechnic Institute's Marcy campus is trying to recover from the loss of its anchor tenant.

State and local officials in the Mohawk Valley say a Danish company's decision to come to the SUNY Polytechnic Institute's campus in Marcy bodes well for the site's nanocenter. 

Power electronics company Danfoss announced last week that it's moving into SUNY Poly's Computer Chip Commercialization Center, called Quad-C. The company will manufacture silicon carbide wafers developed in Albany that will power electronic devices like hybrid cars and wind turbines. They expect to create at least 300 jobs. That's down from the more than 400 the state estimated Quad-C would support back in 2015.

Oneida County Executive Anthony Picente says he is still pleased.

"That's when you get into that dangerous territory of announcing jobs and numbers too soon and need to focus on what's real and I think this announcement does that," Picente said. "You'd always like to see the bigger number, but I'm content with - if I can get 10 of these [announcements] with 100 or 300 [jobs] because it's better than getting one or two with 1,000 because it spreads it out and diversifies the economy."  

The Empire State Development Corporation (ESD) brought in Danfoss. The state's economic development organization stepped in to oversee the project last fall when SUNY Poly's President Alain Kaloyeros resigned amid corruption charges. ESD director Howard Zemsky says this announcement will aid their efforts to replace the Austrian chip fabrication company AMS that pulled out after the fallout.

"When you see companies like Danfoss and GE putting down roots, it only strengthens the ecosystem for the chip fab industry in Utica," Zemsky said. "So one, we see it as one a great announcement in and of itself, but two a great catalyst for further investment."

Zemsky says his organization is currently talking to several companies that may be interested in filling that void at the nanocenter. 

As part of the deal, New York state will invest $100 million in Quad-C - $70 million to finish the facility and $30 million for equipment. $50 million of that will come from the $600 million the state has already reserved for the Marcy site. Danfoss will lease Quad-C for 15 years. 

Steve Dimeo, president of the regional economic development organization Mohawk Valley Edge, said the investment from Danfoss and New York state will continue to push the project forward. 

"I think the timing of this is very good and reaffirms the commitment that has been made and the fact that there’s a lot of traction and a lot of interest in strategic investments in upstate New York," Dimeo said. "The Marcy site is primed and properly positioned to take advantage of those opportunities."

Payne Horning is a reporter and producer, primarily focusing on the city of Oswego and Oswego County. He has a passion for covering local politics and how it impacts the lives of everyday citizens. Originally from Iowa, Horning moved to Muncie, Indiana to study journalism, telecommunications and political science at Ball State University. While there, he worked as a reporter and substitute host at Indiana Public Radio. He also covered the 2015 session of the Indiana General Assembly for the statewide Indiana Public Broadcasting network.