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Central New York: The Nation’s Newest Manufacturing Hub

By Deborah Jeanne Sergeant

With Micron Technology planning to invest up to $100 billion in the CNY economy over the next 20 years, it appears that the region may become America’s newest manufacturing hub as the semiconductor company builds and launches its largest facility.

But other organizations represent a part of the shift back to manufacturing.

The Boise, Idaho-based memory media company plans to generate up to 50,000 indirect jobs in Clay, including approximately 9,000 high-paying Micron jobs.

“We work closely with CenterState CEO to support efforts that attract business to the region,” said Kelly Vann, spokesperson for Lockheed Martin Corporation in Syracuse.

She does not anticipate difficulty in staffing growth at Lockheed Martin, which employs more than 2,500 in its Syracuse location. Micron’s presence may generate more interest in newly minted graduates sticking around, since they have more options and that may mean a bigger applicant pool for all area manufacturers.

“We are looking to grow even more this year,” Vann said. “We anticipate that prospective employees will continue to be attracted to Lockheed Martin because of our strong culture, growth opportunities, and commitment to innovation and 21st-century security missions.”

Micron will doubtlessly make it easier for area businesses to attract complementary companies because of all the attention Micron has drawn to the area.

Randy Wolken, president & CEO of the Manufacturers Association of Central New York, anticipates numerous suppliers and construction firms doing business in the area.

“There will be other industries who will want to be here as they’ll use semiconductors,” he added. “Our region and all of upstate will see growth as semiconductors are in just about everything. These kinds of investments are a 40- to 50-year investment. As they build more factories, it cements us for the next half-century as a place to be for manufacturing.

“I’m also hoping given for the need for energy some more interest in nuclear. That would be a big boost to Oswego. To make semiconductors, you need people, water and energy, plus other forms of infrastructure: housing, classroom space in schools. This community may grow by 150,000 to 200,000 by people coming here from all over the globe.”

Booming business stimulates more business. Patrick Christopher Penfield, professor in the management department at Syracuse University, calls this a “multiplier” effect.

“Suppliers to Micron will cluster around their facility to service and respond to their manufacturing needs,” Penfield explained. “Sometimes you may even see competitors set up in the region due to the skillsets that start to become established in the area. This is truly a fantastic opportunity for Central New York.”

He also views the presence of SU and other schools in the area as key parts of why companies are coming to CNY, as the graduates provide a ready workforce.

Although the full “Micron effect” will take at least two decades to be realized, Karen Knapik-Scalzo, associate economist with New York State Department of Labor Division of Research & Statistics in Syracuse, said that even in the past year few years, the computer and electronic product manufacturing industry has been growing. One reason is its remuneration.

“It is a very high-paying sector with average annual pay of $100,509,” she said.

She listed as typical occupations in this sector to include electrical, electronic, and electromechanical assemblers; industrial engineers; electrical engineers; electrical and electronic engineering technicians; software developers; sales representatives, wholesale and manufacturing, technical; inspectors, testers, sorters, samplers and weighers; and semiconductor processors.