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Buffalo, Rochester, and Syracuse Region Can Become America’s Semiconductor Superhighway

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August 18, 2023


Regional Tech Hubs Program, First Proposed By Schumer In 2019 In His Endless Frontier Act And Created In The CHIPS & Science Bill, Will Use Fed $$$ To Spur Innovation, Workforce Training And Bring Critical Industries Back To America—Schumer & Higgins Supported Tech Hubs Program With Upstate NY In Mind

Now 3 Of Upstate NY’s Major Cities Have Teamed Up In Proposal To Fundamentally Transform Region With Targeted Federal $$$, Boosting Upstate NY’s Booming Chip Sector, Attracting New Companies, Training Workforce, And Advancing Next Frontier Of R&D 

Schumer, Higgins: Buffalo, Rochester, And Syracuse Region Can Become America’s Semiconductor Superhighway


After years of relentless advocacy to bolster Upstate NY’s innovation and manufacturing industries, U.S. Senate Majority Leader Charles E. Schumer and U.S. Congressman Brian Higgins announced the Buffalo-Rochester-Syracuse region have joined forces with a proposal to become a federally-designated Tech Hub in the first-of-its-kind nationwide competition created in his CHIPS & Science Bill.

The proposal, entitled the New York Semiconductor Manufacturing and Research Technology Innovation Corridor Consortium (NY SMART I-Corridor), would build on the historic investments Schumer and Higgins delivered that have spurred a boom in semiconductor manufacturing and innovation investments in Upstate NY. The three-region proposal would use targeted federal assistance to help attract new companies, strengthen domestic supply chains, launch startups & support innovation, expand workforce training, connect underserved communities to good-paying jobs, and revive this critical industry integral to America’s national security and economic competitiveness.

Schumer has personally written to Commerce Secretary Raimondo on behalf of Buffalo, Rochester, and Syracuse, making the case that their proposal is best suited to help drive forward stronger semiconductor and broader microelectronics industries for the entire nation.

Higgins and other members of the Western New York delegation hosted several joint discussions with stakeholders to coordinate planning and met with Assistant Secretary of Commerce Alejandra Castillo to discuss program priorities and elevate awareness about Western New York’s application.

“From Buffalo to Rochester to Syracuse the I-90 corridor has everything it takes to become America’s semiconductor superhighway. The NY SMART I-Corridor Tech Hubs proposal would tap into Upstate NY’s booming microchip industry, training our workforce for tens of thousands of good-paying jobs and supercharging R&D, all while helping attract new major employers in supply chain industries and bringing manufacturing in this critical industry back to America,” said Senator Schumer. “Each city has superb academic centers and each brings with it a unique set of assets with Micron’s historic investment in Central NY, Rochester as one of the leading centers in research & innovation, and Buffalo as one of the great manufacturing powerhouses that built America in the last century and is primed to do the same this century. Together they are a killer combination that can make Upstate NY a global leader for semiconductors with targeted federal investment from the Tech Hubs program. I originally proposed the Tech Hubs program years ago as part of my bipartisan Endless Frontier Act with Upstate NY in mind, and was proud to create the Tech Hubs competition in my CHIPS & Science Bill. This proposal is everything I envisioned, ensuring America’s future is being built in the places that helped build our nation as powerhouse manufacturing centers, and nowhere is better primed and more capable than Buffalo, Rochester, and Syracuse to rebuild this critical industry for our nation.”

“The United States is positioning itself to be a global leader in semiconductor production and Western New York is the community ready and able to deliver on this goal,” said Congressman Brian Higgins. “This region has the innovation, education, training, and manufacturing infrastructure already in place. Pair that with our ‘get it done’ workforce and the collaborative strategy advanced by project partners, this application stands out as one that will deliver the US supply chain strength envisioned to bolster national and economic security.”

“This is a truly transformational moment for the NY SMART I-Corridor as we continue to build on our partnership and offer a plan that fulfills the mission of the Tech Hubs Program.  Leveraging the assets of the entire region sets us up to be very competitive in addressing this national priority and will provide an economic engine that will bring investment to the area and provide opportunities for pathways to good paying jobs in a more inclusive equitable way now and into the future,” commented Christina Orsi, President of The John R. Oishei Foundation.

UB President Satish K. Tripathi said, “With Senator Schumer’s leadership and vision, the Tech Hubs Program—created in his CHIPS & Science Bill—will capitalize on Western New York’s regional expertise to ensure that the US is leading the way in the technologies of today and tomorrow. Our higher education partners across Buffalo, Rochester and Syracuse are committed to cultivating economic development and prosperity across our greater region through innovation, research, education and broad collaboration. We at UB are proud to be partners in an initiative that will have a transformative impact on our region, our state, and our country.”

Schumer and Higgins explained that the first-of-its-kind nationwide Tech Hubs Competition is an economic development initiative that he originally proposed in his Endless Frontier Act. The competition, part of the CHIPS & Science Bill, supported by Schumer and Higgins, included a $10 billion authorization for the Tech Hubs program and was signed into law just over a year ago.  Schumer and Higgins secured an initial infusion of $500 million in last year’s spending bill to jumpstart the competition. The competition is designed to strengthen a region’s capacity to manufacture, commercialize, and grow technology in 10 key focus areas. The program will invest directly in regions with potential to transform into globally-competitive innovation centers in the next decade to bring critical industries back from overseas and create good-paying jobs for American workers.

Schumer and Higgins said the NY SMART I-Corridor proposal would bring together the combined assets of Buffalo, Rochester and Syracuse to help the region become a globally-recognized semiconductor manufacturing hub in the next decade, with innovation focused on improving the quality and quantity of semiconductor manufacturing and, along with it, amplifying the region’s microelectronics and microchip supply chain ecosystem.

The representatives explained that the Tech Hubs program is being rolled out in two phases. The first phase of awards which the NY-SMART I-Corridor has applied for will designate promising Tech Hubs across America and provide strategy development grant awards to accelerate their development— the joint Buffalo, Rochester, and Syracuse proposal has applied for both types of awards. The EDA expects to designate at least 20 Tech Hubs across the country, and only those that receive the Tech Hubs designation in the first phase will be able to apply for Phase 2 implementation awards. These awards are designed to be larger, multi-tens of millions of dollars each for a first infusion, in order to fund several key initiatives to make the Tech Hub a success.

The Buffalo-Rochester-Syracuse consortium includes over 80 members from across the public sector, industry, higher-ed, economic and workforce development, and labor communities.  This includes over 22 industry groups and firms, 20 economic development organizations, 8 labor & workforce training organizations, and 10 institutions of higher learning.  This application development process was led by three designated conveners, one from each region: The John R. Oishei Foundation in Buffalo, ROC2025 in Rochester, and CenterState CEO in Syracuse. Specifically, the NY SMART I-Corridor Tech Hub proposal seeks to propel the Buffalo-Rochester-Syracuse corridor by attracting new suppliers to the region, including onshoring companies from overseas, advancing research & development programs for the semiconductor industry, training the next generation of Upstate New York’s manufacturing workforce, and specifically helping ensure that underserved populations are connected to the tens thousands of good-paying jobs expected to be created in this growing industry in the region.

Schumer and Higgins said the Buffalo-Rochester-Syracuse corridor is uniquely positioned to rapidly address vulnerabilities in American semiconductor manufacturing, with the region having undergone a significant transformation in recent years to become a growing center for innovation and high-tech manufacturing. In fact, Rochester, Syracuse and Buffalo respectively have been validated as the #1, #3, and #15-ranked metro areas in Jump Starting America’s Tech Hub Index System as the region’s best poised to become new Tech-Economy hubs if provided federal investment.

Schumer and Higgins have been preparing Buffalo, Rochester, and Syracuse for this opportunity, working relentlessly to boost Upstate New York as a global tech leader. Schumer and Higgins’ tireless advocacy has resulted in billions in proposed investments from the semiconductor industry spurred by his Chips & Science Bill. In the Syracuse region alone, Micron has announced an historic $100 billion investment to build a cutting-edge memory fab expected to create nearly 50,000 jobs. In Western NY, Edwards Vacuum will invest $300+ million to build a 600 job U.S. dry pump manufacturing facility to supply the semiconductor industry. With Schumer and Higgins’ direct advocacy, Buffalo has already received $25 million for its growing tech industry through the American Recue Plan’s Build Back Better Challenge, laying the foundation for the Tech Hub designation they are applying for today. In the Rochester region, Corning Incorporated, which manufactures glass critical to the microchip industry, has already invested  $139 million in Monroe County – creating over 270 new, good-paying jobs in the Finger Lakes region.

Members of the consortium include semiconductor manufacturers and supply chain business like Micron, INFICON, Edwards Vacuum, Corning, Optimax, AMD, TTM Technologies, Saab, Akoustis, L3Harris, Lockheed Martin, Linde, Lifatec and SRC; business organizations like NY Photonics with 120-member companies, Buffalo Niagara Partnership, and Rochester Technology and Manufacturing Association (RTMA) with 85-member companies, Buffalo Niagara Manufacturing Alliance (BNMA); education and research institutions like University of Buffalo, University of Rochester, Rochester Institute of Technology, Monroe Community College, Syracuse University, Cornell , SUNY Oswego, SUNY ESF, SUNY EOC, and Onondaga Community College; workforce development partners like Centerstate CEO, Northland Workforce Training Center, RochesterWorks, RMAPI, UNiCON, WNY Area Labor Federation, Central-Northern New York Building and Construction Trades Council, IBEW Local 43, and many more.

A copy of Schumer’s letter of support to the Department of Commerce Secretary Raimondo can be found here.

A copy of the letter of support sent by Higgins and bipartisan members of the House delegation can be found here.

Industry, workforce, and government leaders from across the Buffalo, Rochester, and Syracuse regions have all gathered in support of the proposal, and applauded Schumer’s efforts and the application’s official submission this week:

President & CEO of Buffalo Niagara Partnership Dottie Gallagher said, “The SMART I-Corridor’s rich manufacturing history played a key role in shaping our country’s industrial heritage.  We are now ready to write our next chapter by playing an equally important role in our nation’s quest to significantly increase domestic manufacturing of semiconductors.  This unprecedented collaboration among the SMART I-Corridor consortium has united private sector leadership, elected officials, community stakeholders, and prestigious institutions of higher learning around the potent opportunity of securing a Tech Hub designation and the power such a designation would have in advancing our shared economic goals.  I want to thank Majority Leader Schumer for leading efforts to diversify the allocation of federal technology funding and our region’s federal delegation for its strong support of this effort.”

“Northland Workforce Training Center (NWTC) is excited to pursue Tech Hub designation as a member of the newly established ‘New York Semiconductor Manufacturing and Research Technology Innovation-Corridor (NY SMART I-Corridor).’ This initiative comprised of stakeholders in Buffalo, Rochester and Syracuse (BRS), is singularly positioned to rapidly address vulnerabilities in US semiconductor manufacturing at the intersection of high-performance computing and advanced manufacturing technology areas. As such, Tech Hub designation would enhance our existing assets and capabilities to propel our region into global leadership in semiconductor manufacturing within the next decade,” said Stephen Tucker, President & CEO of NWTC. “I’d like to thank Senator Schumer for his support in this effort.”

“Erie County is proud to be one of the many multi-region partners involved with the NY SMART-I Corridor Tech Hub proposal,” said Erie County Executive Mark C. Poloncarz. “The list of assets western and central New York has is virtually unparalleled. The Buffalo, Rochester, and Syracuse regions have top-ranked institutions of higher education and research, two Great Lakes, hydro and nuclear power, a rich history of manufacturing, a second-to-none workforce, and interconnectedness via rail and the I-90. Thank you to Senator Schumer for his leadership on the Tech Hubs initiative, and to all of our partners working to make western and central New York the global hub for new technologies.”

TechBuffalo President & CEO Sarah Tanbakuchi said,“TechBuffalo is excited to be a member of the NY SMART I-Corridor consortium, which has been championed and strongly supported by Senator Schumer. The Buffalo-Rochester-Syracuse corridor is a growing hub for tech talent development. We believe that our region’s focus on new pathways and pipelines into technical careers, coupled with our world-leading scientific capabilities and growing manufacturing base, positions us to be a global leader in semiconductor manufacturing.”

Peter De Jesús Jr., President of the Western New York Area Labor Federation, AFL-CIO stated, “The workers of Western New York–over 145,00 of them being members of our labor federation–are thrilled to move our region forward from its Rust Belt manufacturing roots to a leading innovator in semiconductor production. Our commitment to this consortium is bolstered by the far-reaching opportunities and benefits that this project will provide to working families today, and for generations to come, including jobs, living wages, and community-sustaining downstream economic effects. We are embracing this occasion’s promise to revitalize our region’s working class and advance the cause of social and racial justice in the tech sector. As always, we stand ready to work together with all our partners who seek to empower and improve the lives of working people.”

Peter Ahrens, Executive Director, Buffalo Niagara Manufacturing Alliance, “At the turn of the previous century, WNY led the world in innovation; harnessing hydropower to light streets, homes, and manufacturing plants, to creating innovative components which went into a myriad of commercial and consumer products. These funds will serve to reinvigorate the thought leadership our communities possess to power our nation and the world into the 23rd century. My colleagues in the NY Manufacturing Alliance and our communities are grateful for Senator Schumer’s dogged pursuit in getting his CHIPS & Science Bill over the finish line and his application, NY SMART I-Corridor put forward on our behalf.”

“For generations, Rochester has been synonymous with innovation, and it has long been my priority in Congress to begin our new chapter of growth and prosperity with Tech Hub designation,” said Congressman Joe Morelle. “This is an opportunity to build on the strengths of our unique communities, collaborate across specialized industries and reinvigorate the Finger Lakes region for years to come. I’m grateful to Senator Schumer for his support and appreciate his leadership in making this a priority for New York’s Congressional delegation.”

"I sincerely thank Senator Schumer and Congressman Morelle for their leadership in originating and supporting the Tech Hub concept. RIT takes seriously its responsibility to educate the next generation of students who will develop comprehensive solutions that enable the U.S. to play a leadership role in semiconductor manufacturing," said RIT President David Munson. "Together, working alongside our region's universities and colleges, and our partners in government and the private sector, we will focus on a collaborative approach to growing the semiconductor industry and preparing workers for exciting new careers in this vital field."

“The University of Rochester enthusiastically supports the Buffalo-Rochester-Syracuse region’s proposal to the U.S. Economic Development Administration Regional Technology and Innovation Hubs (Tech Hubs) program and I want to thank Senator Schumer and Representative Morelle for their leadership and support in helping make this opportunity a reality. As one of America's leading research universities, the University has long been a hub for innovative ideas, technologies, and entrepreneurship,” said University of Rochester Vice President for Research Stephen Dewhurst. “As a proud partner of this transformational collaboration, we are excited to support regional efforts in research, education and workforce development, technology commercialization, and regional placemaking through our ongoing initiatives. The region’s potential for innovation led growth is well documented and we believe this proposed NY SMART I-Corridor will provide a path to an ever better future full of boundless possibilities.”

Joseph Stefko, President ROC2025 said, “Over the past two years we committed to building a consortium greater than the sum of its parts. We’re confident the BRS corridor can meet this moment and truly fulfill the mission of the Tech Hubs Program — addressing a key national priority while catalyzing transformational opportunity in a region that, after generations of economic challenges, is poised to lead the way for generations to come.  I’m deeply grateful to Senator Schumer, Congressman Morelle, and all our federal partners for their vision, leadership, and unwavering support of our efforts.”

Matt Hurlbutt, president and CEO, Greater Rochester Enterprise said, “As the lead business attraction and retention organization for the Greater Rochester, NY region, Greater Rochester Enterprise strongly supports the NY SMART I-Corridor Tech Hub consortium's application as a strategic approach to solidify this region's role as a global leader in semiconductor manufacturing. Edwards, Corning, AMD, and Optimax are investing in this community because of the talent, university lead R&D assets, and unique concentration of advanced manufacturing, sensing, optics, photonics, and imaging expertise available to support their growth. This Tech Hub designation will also further accelerate Greater Rochester Enterprise's strong track record for attracting new businesses and cultivating the expansion of existing businesses that strengthen our region's robust semiconductor supply chain ecosystem.”

Greater Rochester Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Bob Duffy said, “The Buffalo-Rochester-Syracuse region contains semiconductor and advanced manufacturing resources, talent, and scientific capabilities that rival any other in the United States – all within an easy two-and-a-half-hour drive. The NY SMART I-Corridor represents an incredible opportunity to further strengthen the collaboration between these three metro areas, creating a hub for advancement of industry-shaping semiconductor technology, enhanced national security, and a transformed Upstate New York economy. Greater Rochester Chamber thanks Senator Schumer and all of our partners in Buffalo and Syracuse for their tireless advocacy on behalf of our region’s Tech Hub application.”

“INFICON has served the Semiconductor market for more than 50 years. We are a trusted supplier and innovation partner for the global Semiconductor industry. Leveraging our unique position as both a sensor and software innovator, we understand the collaboration required across the value chain to propel Semiconductor roadmaps. We strongly support the Buffalo-Rochester-Syracuse Regional Tech Hub application and its effort to strengthen US semiconductor manufacturing and research. The ecosystem in this corridor will combine its strong foundation in high demand technologies with a commitment to environmental and social roadmaps, to develop world class Semiconductor Manufacturing and Research in the region. I would also like to thank Senator Schumer for his strong support and commitment to the Tech Hub initiative as he works to strengthen the economic base in this region,” said Hannah Henley, President of INFICON Intelligent Sensor Solutions.

Onondaga County Executive Ryan McMahon said, "Thanks to Senator Schumer's CHIPS Act and the historic investment being made by Micron, Onondaga County will be the hub for semiconductor manufacturing for memory technology in the country and the world. Our success is also due in part because of the important relationships forged with our partners down the thruway in Rochester and Buffalo. The momentum and progress, however, cannot stop there." McMahon continued, "Another critical piece of Senator Schumer's CHIPS Act is the NY SMART I-Corridor which will provide resources to further bolster the work being done to prepare Central New York for this next exciting chapter in our economic comeback. Building off the partnerships forged in the recruitment of Micron, Onondaga, Monroe and Erie Counties have come together again to ask the Department of Commerce to designate this region as a Semiconductor Innovation Tech Hub. The skeptics and naysayers doubted us before with the Micron investment, but once again, with the help of Senator Schumer, I am confident we will prove them wrong again with this vitally important designation."

“TTM Technologies is a strong supporter of the BRS Tech Hub initiative, which will be a game changer for New York State. TTM is dedicated to microelectronics research, development, and manufacturing in New York, along with many other companies, colleges, and universities in the great cities of Buffalo, Rochester, and Syracuse dedicated to strengthening New York’s position as a global leader in the microelectronics ecosystem. BRS is the right choice,” said Catherine Gridley, Executive Vice President & President of Aerospace & Defense Sector, TTM Technologies.

Erik Smith, President and CEO of Saab in the U.S. said, “Headquartered in Syracuse, Saab knows first-hand that our region is perfectly suited to lead the future of the U.S. chip industry.  With a strong foundation of engineering, microelectronics, and national security related industries, Upstate/Central New York is primed with an exceptionally skilled workforce, ready to launch the NY SMART-I Tech Hub. Thanks to the hard work of Senator Schumer, we couldn’t be more ready for this.”

“Syracuse University is proud to support the Tech Hub designation application and grateful to Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and all our elected officials for their tenacious advocacy on behalf of Central New York,” says Syracuse University Chancellor and President Kent Syverud. “This designation would strengthen Syracuse’s position as an incubator for innovation, manufacturing excellence and workforce development, and further propel the region’s short- and long-term economic prosperity. We look forward to contributing to this once-in-a-generation transformation of our region and cementing Central New York’s future.”

“Building on an undeniable momentum, the NY SMART I-Corridor will leverage its unique and dense array of validated assets to fulfill the mission of the Tech Hubs Program. This corridor builds on efforts spearheaded by Majority Leader Schumer to strengthen the semiconductor manufacturing in the US and leverages the region’s history as a manufacturing powerhouse in microelectronics, sensing, and optics. Furthermore, our effort is backed by more than 65 partners from across academia, the private and public sectors, and nonprofits who come together in support of this critical work. Looking forward, we know we can achieve a higher-level of success and implementation of our plan because of our strengths and partnerships,” said Robert M. Simpson, president of CenterState CEO.

“Central and Northern New York Building and Construction Trades Council is proud to express our commitment to collaboration with the semiconductor manufacturing Tech Hub project. We look forward to helping create a reimagined future for local labor and our regional economy by capitalizing on the opportunities that BRS Tech Hub and Micron are creating for our community. This nation was built on the skills and hard work of its labor force. I would like to thank Senator Schumer for his dedication and determination to help create these opportunities in furtherance of the American Dream. Like the Senator, CNNYBCTC is dedicated to closing the talent gap and providing opportunities for historically underrepresented demographics. We will be an important partner to the BRS Semiconductor Manufacturing Tech Hub. Our organization looks forward to supporting Senator Schumer’s efforts to propel our region into global leadership in the semiconductor manufacturing realm within the next decade. We are in full support of this project. Please do not hesitate to contact us with any questions,” said Gregory Lancette, President of the Central and Northern New York Building and Construction Trades Council.

“We thank Senator Schumer for his foresight and leadership with the Regional Technology and Innovation Hub, bringing all of us together with the common goal of preparing the workforce of tomorrow in the semiconductor industry. Onondaga Community College is proud to be a partner in the Central New York economic ecosystem. We’re building the Micron Cleanroom Simulation Lab on our campus and starting new Micron-related Electromechanical Technology degree and certificate programs this fall. These join our highly successful and long-standing portfolio of technology-based programs which are constantly being adapted to serve the needs of local employers and provide them with valuable members of their workforce. We are also helping K-12 students envision themselves in STEM-related careers through participation in our Micron Chip Camp and Girls Going Tech programs. We look forward to continued collaboration with our partners across the region as we help solidify Central New York as a global leader in the semiconductor industry,” said Onondaga Community College President Dr. Warren Hilton.



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