Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Another Big Nanotechnology Win!

The powers that be are spending close to $50 million dollars to convert a wooded parcel of land into a grassy lot in the vague hope it will become the Marcy Ultra-Mega-Super-Nanotech site. Mohawk Valley EDGE is simply delighted at all the "potential" the site has.

Meanwhile, the Albany Times-Union reports that the state's actual nanotechnology hub is about to receive another huge infusion of funding worth more than a billion dollars. That's billion, with a "b".

The Paterson administration is discussing a major economic development deal with IBM to enhance the global corporation's Fishkill chip manufacturing capabilities and expand research and development operations at the University at Albany's nanotechnology center, people close to the talks said Friday.

The deal, which could also include U Albany's east campus in Rensselaer County, is part of IBM's quest to develop its plant for the next generation of computer chip making.

It would come with heavy investments by the company and substantial support from the state, according to the sources. One of the sources pegged the overall investments well above $1 billion.

This move makes it abundantly clear that the state's investment in the Marcy site, such as it is, is nothing more than a sop tossed our way. Sure, politically connected construction firms will be able to enjoy a few years of pork-fueled success, but state government has clearly decided that the Albany area is, and will continue to be, the focus of real technological development. It's the same system of priorities that led to the disappointing Homeland Security Center at the airport and the incredible vanishing data center, both of which were supposed to generate hundreds of jobs using massive investments of tax dollars.

The real tragedy of the situation is that the millions of dollars earmarked for the Marcy site is desperately needed elsewhere in the area. Right now that money is being spent on the hope that someday a chip-fab company will need a lot with state-of-the-art sewer, water, and electrical infrastructure...and won't mind being isolated from the rest of the industrial and intellectual assets miles down the Thruway in the Albany area. For all the happy talk of a "nanotechnology corridor" stretching across upstate the truth is that any company with competent management is going to locate where the action is. And that ain't here, as the ol' timers would say.

In the meantime, area residents are asked to make due with crumbling sewer lines, a water system prone to running out of water, and a network of aging power lines draped from every available pole and building.