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The U.S. Semiconductor Boom

By KathodeRay Media

How Upstate New York Economic Development Leaders are Embracing the Growth of Semiconductor Production in the Region

Many areas throughout the world are finding new avenues of economic growth. Whether it’s in developing existing local businesses, attracting new businesses, or jumping on newfound competitive advantages – there’s plenty of room for expansion. Recently, the hopes for Upstate New York becoming an epicenter of semiconductor manufacturing for the country are sky high following the recent approval of the CHIPS Act by President Joe Biden.

Efforts Started Decades Ago

In the mid-1990s New York officials, including then-Governor George Pataki, encouraged the development of SUNY Poly in Albany as well as what became GlobalFoundries in Saratoga County. In that time, Central New York also saw an influx of semiconductor production facilities as well.

Investments in these areas have helped parts of upstate New York amid a struggle to grow jobs and retain its population. Pataki himself pointed to efforts in the early 2000s to bring in and incentivize GlobalFoundries.

Regaining the Manufacturing Edge

Currently, only 12% of chips are manufactured domestically, compared to 37% in the 1990s, and many foreign competitors, including China, are investing heavily to dominate the industry. Nearly 75% of global semiconductor production is now occurring in East Asia and foreign government subsidies drive most of the cost advantages for producing semiconductors overseas. The point of this recent legislation is to help turn the tide on this trend by bringing manufacturing back to America, along with investing in other key technology and R&D so New York and the country can lead the world in innovation.

The Capital Region is uniquely poised to benefit, thanks to the Albany Nanotech complex potentially becoming the major hub of the nation’s first National Semiconductor Technology Center (NSTC), which is created by the new bill. Officials have worked non-stop to uplift Albany Nanotech and the Capital Region as the best candidate to lead the nation in semiconductor research.

What Economic Developers are Foreseeing

Katie Newcombe has been Chief Economic Development Officer for Albany’s Center for Economic Growth since late 2020. A resident of the Capital Region since 2013, her local experience includes positions with the Capitalize Albany Corporation and National Grid, where she led business attraction and expansion initiatives throughout the region.

Prior to her relocation, Newcombe served in strategic rolls for the Pennsylvania Governor’s Action Team and the North Carolina Department of Commerce. She considers this nationwide push on semiconductors as “a huge opportunity for growth…not only throughout the Capital Region, but the entire country.” Newcombe believes the path to success must focus on hard-coded plans for producing semiconductors, as “the entire world is looking at us as a new leader in production…we owe it to everyone to step up to the task”.

A Rising Tide Ripple Effect

Leaning into semiconductor manufacturing as a job-creating economic engine will attract both talent and population to all 8 counties that make up the Capital Region. Warren Hart, Deputy County Administrator and Director of the Greene County Department of Economic Development Tourism & Planning has been promoting his county as Affordable, Beautiful, and Commutable for the past 5 years. As younger workers seek less-densely populated communities, and broadband connectivity reaches the ‘last mile’ of previously underserved rural locations, Hart sees government support for the semiconductor manufacturing industry as an investment in community prosperity.

“When good-paying manufacturing jobs are within commuting distance, rural communities become highly attractive” says Hart. “Net migration to our county has started to stabilize our aging population that is increasingly retiring to southern states. An influx of new talent, young families, and entrepreneurs attracted by the semiconductor industry will no doubt fuel increases in our school system population, startup support businesses, and ultimately our tax base.”

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