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Q&A with Randy Wolken

Micron Effect: MACNY chief sees an influx of 200,000 new people in the region — he discusses what sectors of the economy are poised to grow the most because of Micron

Over the next 20 years, Micron Technology Inc. plans to invest $100 billion in Central New York, generating 9,000 jobs to Clay, plus another 40,000 across the community. Its memory and storage technology production plant represents the largest investment in U.S. history. But in addition to that industry growth, many other companies and industry segments are ready to grow as well.

We recently discussed the growth potential with Randy Wolken, president and CEO of the Manufacturers Association of Central New York, Inc.

Q: What segments in manufacturing are poised to grow because of Micron’s investment?

A: Because of the type of manufacturing that’s moving here, there are a lot of related industries that will grow. Because of that kind of migration, construction trades will have significant growth, from the fabricators themselves, to childcare facilities and housing, they’ll grow significantly to scale the infrastructure.

Q: When will this growth start?

A: That will happen more immediately. The first memory facility will start in 2024. This is right around the corner. Housing will be built, roads.

Q: How will the growth affect the job market for skilled manufacturing?

A: We’re already seeing a need for skilled workers in the technical spaces, not just in memory. We’re seeing growth in nearly all sectors, not just semiconductors. You’ll see growth in EJ [in Schroeppel] and Novelis [in Scriba]. I think you’ll see a lot of growth, not necessarily related to semiconductors. Part of what we’ll see is the ecosystem of talent will grow.

Q: How about the population in CNY? Do we have enough home-grown workers?

A: People are going to move here, 100,000 people in Onondaga County and not even including Oswego County. People will move here in the supply space or semiconductor space. I think at least three regions, between Rochester and Syracuse and from between Utica-Rome and Syracuse. If you are relocating, it will include these areas. You’ll see even as far south as Cortland. This is going to be a super-regional growth pattern. I think the numbers are small. I foresee 200,000 in the bigger areas over the next 20 years.

Q: What are some examples of similar growth elsewhere?

A: If you look at Global Foundries in Saratoga, they had a growth of 3,000 connected jobs and 20,000 all-in. All the other businesses like dry cleaners and pizza shops come with it to serve the people who have moved here and are working here. We’ll see growth we haven’t seen in decades.

Q: How about customers of Micron?

A: Things that use semiconductor chips will also want to be here, like EV vehicles and other industries will move here because of the availability of chips. They’re everywhere, I think even in my toaster. It’s a foundational industry.

Q: Are there any other manufacturing sectors in which you foresee growth?

A: We’re going to see fabricators, like plastic and metal: all up and down the supply chain, there will be opportunities. Micron is dedicated to green energy, so we’ll see more than that. It’s not just specific to Micron’s need but the larger manufacturing space. South Korea’s Lotte Group, which owns Bristol-Myers Squib, is another space that will grow. Biotech is tangential to manufacturing. I think it will all become real when we see the cranes. We won’t need more proof when we see the roads coming in.