August 4, 2008

IBM Invests $1B in Dutchess Plant

By Gordon, Jim

IBM is investing in the lower Hudson Valley to the tune of $1 billion, which it says will go to the East Fishkill semiconductor plant over the next three years. Additionally, the state will invest $65 million in the plant.

The Armonk-based corporation will also invest another $500 million in upstate nanotechnology facilities.

The public-private investment was announced last week in Albany. The package includes an additional $75 million in state aid to create 1,000 new jobs, mainly in Albany, to support the nanotechnology chip development of IBM at the College of Nanoscale Science and Engineering at the University at Albany. The deal includes expansion of IBM's operations at Albany NanoTech; the creation of a new, advanced semiconductor packaging research and development center at an undetermined location in upstate New York and the expansion of IBM's East Fishkill facility.

Officials expressed confidence the deal will position New York as a leader in emerging nanotechnology efforts worldwide.

"The positive effects of this critical investment will be felt - for a generation and will be the catalyst for other high tech business development throughout upstate New York," Gov. David Paterson said. "Our state has become the leading location for nanotechnology research and development."

The news of the investment was welcomed by area leaders.

"We appreciate BM's continued commitment to Dutchess County," County Executive William Steinhaus said. "IBM's announcement of its plan to invest millions of dollars to upgrade its East Fishkill facility solidifies the corporation's future in Dutchess and ensures high-quality, high tech jobs will continue to be available for the long term."

"The announcement this morning is an incredible boon for job growth and job retention, specifically for our region," said Ann Meagher, president and CEO of the Greater Southern Dutchess Chamber of Commerce. "This commitment will solidify our region's and our state's position as being a hotbed for nanotechnology and semiconductor research. And the rewards are huge."

John E. Kelly III, IBM senior vice president and director of research, said, "These new investments will spur continuing advancements in nanotechnology and semiconductor research and development - including new efforts in semiconductor packaging - propelling IBM chip innovations and solidifying the state's reputation as a high-technology leader."

Nanotechnology is a broad emerging discipline referring to ultra- small particles. A nanometer is one billionth of a meter, or roughly, a nanometer is to a meter as an ordinary marble is to the Earth. When working with materials of this size in great numbers effects of quantum physics come into play, and scientists hope to fashion new materials and technologies from this interface of chemistry and physics.

In general terms nanotech refers to manufacturing materials and products from the molecular level and can require the input of specialists ranging from physicists and chemists. While there are hopes for applications including creation of special polymers and computer chips, thus far, the largest application is in cosmetics and pharmaceutical applications, including sun screen.

But while nanotech is still somewhat speculative, the agreements calls for IBM to fund upgrades at the East Fishkill plant which specialize in applications tied to semiconductors. The state will contribute $65 million to that portion of the deal. Kelly said the agreement will ensure that semiconductor jobs will remain in East Fishkill and create new partnership opportunities between IBM's East Fishkill and Poughkeepsie plants. Those plants employ more than 11,000 people. IBM officials stopped short of saying jobs in Poughkeepsie and Fishkill have long-term security. ''We know we can retain 1,400 jobs in the semiconductor area, through research development and the manufacturing of these advanced technologies," Kelly said. "And then we'll see how the technology matures, what the market acceptance is and we'll go from there from a job standpoint."

Copyright Westfair Communications Jul 21, 2008

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