Forgive the loan that built the Luther Forest Technology Park

ByRichard C. Sloan

Nov 1, 2021

The debt has been paid, and then some.

That’s the message New York needs to hear on a $ 13 million Empire State Development (ESD) loan to buy the property that now houses GlobalFoundries.

Over twenty years ago, Saratoga County economic development officials approached the state with an idea, a big idea to buy a 1,400-acre site in Malta to attract a semiconductor manufacturer.

The state, under the government of the day. George Pataki, had embarked on a long-term strategic effort to attract the semiconductor industry to invest in New York. As part of this initiative, there have been a series of large-scale policy changes, workforce development initiatives and investments in the establishment of Albany Nano, a public / private research center of world class. Another key program launched in support of this initiative was SEMI-NY, which worked with communities across the state to acquire and develop sites suitable for semiconductor manufacturers.

Saratoga executives approached Empire State Development with what they thought was the perfect site to ultimately attract a factory, but they needed a $ 13 million loan to get the property under control. This property is what we know today as the Luther Forest Technology Park. It was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, but Empire State Development, then and today, was generally not giving home loans for speculative projects.

But Pataki and then ESD chairman Charles Gargano, with the support of Senate Majority Leader Joe Bruno, R-Brunswick, saw the big picture and endorsed the deal. The rest, as they say, is history. Today, GlobalFoundries directly employs some three thousand people, has invested billions of dollars in the site and has just become a publicly traded company. Most importantly, GlobalFoundries has announced plans to expand its capacity in the coming years, adding up to $ 15 billion in new investments, creating more than 1,000 new jobs. By all accounts, the agreement reached by Pataki and supported and nurtured by three of his successors was a huge success.

However, today there is still a large public debt owed by an organization that cannot afford to pay it. The question today is the disposition of the loan balance and the control of the future development of the Luther Forest Technology Park. By holding this loan, additional investment in the park by supply chain companies has been delayed as the cost of real estate exceeds market realities. Giving up the roughly $ 9 million remaining on the loan could drastically reduce the cost of real estate per acre for Luther Forest Technology Corporation and ultimately revive development that has stalled for more than 15 years.

I predicted it in 1998 and I say it again today: The overall economic impact to the community and the state of bringing a factory to New York City far exceeds the value of the loan granted by Empire State Development. In addition to the direct value of jobs and investment, the project put New York on the map, providing the roadmap for being globally competitive in the semiconductor industry. Ultimately, this allowed the Crees to invest in Marcy, and with the expected passage of the CHIPS for America and Senator Charles Schumer’s Fab Act, other plans in New York are currently under consideration.

Let’s embrace this success and recognize what most of us already know: future development in Malta should be controlled by local leaders in cooperation with the community and with the site’s largest tenant, GlobalFoundries. New York got what it negotiated for, and it is incumbent on the Hochul administration to work with local elected officials to pass a law directing Empire State Development to cancel the loan and allow future development decisions to be made. locally.

David Catalfamo is a former senior vice president of Empire State Development and is currently Director of Economic Development in Oneida County.


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