4/12/2012 3:01:11 PM
The Economist: The springs that heal
AMERICA’S wealthy, lured by the mineral springs, flocked to Saratoga during the 19th century. Gilded-Age figures such as J.P. Morgan, the financier, summered there. The race course, which opened in 1863, became a huge draw. Even James Bond placed a flutter at the Saratoga track in “Diamonds are Forever”. Yet, until recently, Saratoga did not have much else going for it. Although colleges and universities crowd the Greater Capital Region of New York, the five-county spread where Saratoga sits, there were few jobs around. Things are different now.
Thanks to a cold call placed by the Saratoga Economic Development Corporation in 2005, pitching the area as an ideal site for a factory, GlobalFoundries, a semiconductor manufacturer, is building a $4.6 billion, 2m-square-foot campus in a Saratoga forest (above). The main site, a former secret missile-testing range, is as big as six American-football fields. The Semi-Conductor Association estimates that the five-year cost of building and operating a factory making the wafers needed for semiconductors is $1 billion dearer in the United States than elsewhere. Luckily, New York state offered a $1.4 billion incentive package. Some resent the subsidies, but the state anticipates a return of $2.54 for every dollar spent on the project.
The investment will also create 1,600 direct jobs and about 8,000 indirect ones, creating an annual payroll of some $300m. The first hires come from all over the world, but about 50% are local, and GlobalFoundries expects this proportion to grow. It is working with local colleges and universities to create a labour pool for the future. More than half the jobs require at least an associate’s degree (ie, one granted by a technical or community college) in electronics or semiconductor manufacturing. Along with other high-tech companies, GlobalFoundries is working closely with Hudson Valley Community College, which has a dedicated semiconductor-training campus, called TEC-SMART, nestled in the same forest. It shares the space with local high-schoolers. “In a way we’re preparing for jobs that don’t exist yet,” says Joseph Dragone, a district superintendent.