Syracuse's $100 Billion Hope: A Giant Chip Fab

Category Business

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The city of Syracuse, New York, is about to become an economic test of a $100 billion investment, as it is set to become the home of up to 4 chip fabs over the next 20 years. The investment from Micron is said to bring 50,000 jobs to the region, as well as flood billions into the economy. With legacy manufacturers such as GE and Carrier having shut down, this could lead to a revitalization of the area.

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For now, the thousand acres that may well portend a more prosperous future for Syracuse, New York, and the surrounding towns are just a nondescript expanse of scrub, overgrown grass, and trees. But on a day in late April, a small drilling rig sits at the edge of the fields, taking soil samples. It’s the first sign of construction on what could become the largest semiconductor manufacturing facility in the United States .

Micron, the company planning to build 4 chip fabs in the area, is a memory chip maker which is based in Boise, Idaho.

Spring has finally come to upstate New York after a long, gray winter. A small tent is set up. A gaggle of local politicians mill around, including the county executive and the supervisor of the town of Clay, some 15 miles north of Syracuse, where the site is located. There are a couple of local news reporters. If you look closely, the large power lines that help make this land so valuable are visible just beyond a line of trees .

The CHIPS and Science Act, which was passed with bipartisan support, aims to boost R&D spending, secure supply chains, and make the US competetive in semiconductor manufacturing.

Then an oversize black SUV with the suits drives up, and out steps $100 billion. The CHIPS and Science Act, passed last year with bipartisan congressional support, was widely viewed by industry leaders and politicians as a way to secure supply chains, bolster R&D spending, and make the United States competitive again in semiconductor chip manufacturing. But it also intends, at least according to the Biden administration, to create good jobs and, ultimately, widen economic prosperity .

The investment of $100 billion into Clay is expected to create 50,000 jobs over the course of 20 years.

Now Syracuse is about to become an economic test of whether, over the next several decades, the aggressive government policies—and the massive corporate investments they spur—can both boost the country’s manufacturing prowess and revitalize regions like upstate New York. It all begins with an astonishingly expensive and complex kind of factory called a chip fab. Micron, a maker of memory chips based in Boise, Idaho, announced last fall that it plans to build up to four of these fabs, each costing roughly $25 billion, at the Clay site over the next 20 years .

With legacy manufacturers such as GE and Carrier shutting down their facilities, Syracuse has been suffering a loss of jobs and people.

And on this April day, standing under the tent, CEO Sanjay Mehrotra conjures a vision for what the $100 billion investment will mean: "Imagine this site, which has nothing on it today, will have four major buildings 20 years from now. And each of these buildings will be the size of 10 football fields, so a total of 40 football fields worth of clean-room space." The fabs will create 50,000 jobs in the region over time, including 9,000 at Micron, he has pledged—"so this is really going to be a major transformation for the community .

According to Census data, Syracuse has the highest child poverty rate among large US cities.

" For any city, a $100 billion corporate investment is a big deal, but for Syracuse, it promises a reversal of fortune. Sitting at the northeast corner of the Rust Belt, Syracuse has been losing jobs and people for decades as its core manufacturing facilities shut down—first GE and more recently Carrier, which once employed some 7,000 workers at its East Syracuse plant. According to Census data, Syracuse now has the highest child poverty rate among large US cities; it has the second-highest rate of families living on less than $10,000 a year .

The Micron investment is said to flood billions into the local economy, with much of it going on construction.

An abandoned building in Syracuse, which has lost most of its legacy manufacturing. KATE WARREN The Micron investment will flood billions into the local economy, maor of which will be spent on construction in the region. But what happens after the shovels come out and the manufacturing is up and running? .

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