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Regional News

Onondaga, Oneida counties collaborate on semiconductor corridor

Cree semiconductor.jpg
A rendering of the Cree semiconductor facility in Marcy.

Legislation working its way through Congress aims to address a national shortage of semiconductor chips, which are used in everything from smartphones to vehicles, by providing subsidies for domestic manufacturers. Some local officials think upstate could stand to benefit from the proposal in a major way.

In the town of Marcy, New York, just outside of Utica, construction is underway on what's being billed as the largest semiconductor chip fabrication facility in the world. Oneida County Executive Anthony Picente hopes that this $1 billion investment will be a lightning rod for the region.

"Once Cree does get fully online here in the next several months, then that could lead to more activity,” Picente said. “We feel really positive about being poised for future growth.”

According to Picente, the state's Marcy nano-site facility where Cree will operate, has room for three other semiconductor chip fabrication operations. But Oneida County is taking a regional approach to attracting new investments, working with Onondaga County Ryan McMahon to build something much larger.

"We can collaborate on sort of a corridor if you connect Albany to Marcy to Syracuse and continue to build upon what we’re doing and certainly what’s taking place technology-wise at the Air Force Research Lab [in Rome] helps the attractiveness of the region," Picente said.

Picente and McMahon are also coordinating with Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) on the initiative. His legislation would not only invest $52 billion to speed up domestic production of semiconductors, but also billions of dollars for regional tech hubs –like potentially the Mohawk Valley and central New York– to support the workforce development and other needs of this industry. McMahon said Onondaga County's White Pine site in Clay, which is more than 1,200 acres and “shovel-ready,” could be the next site in the region for a large investment.

"Many companies are already in the marketplace right now and we are talking to many of them looking at sites. But there will be other companies that when these incentives become a reality that maybe expedite their capital investment planning to try to get it done in the immediate future, because you really have a once-in-a-generation opportunity now,” McMahon said. “So, certainly we are going to continue to work with our partners at Marcy and Tony Picente specifically to develop a semiconductor, high-technology corridor and then identify all the supply-chain opportunities that come with that.”

Schumer's bill has passed the Senate but is awaiting action in the House.