Ten years ago the birth of YNN coincided with the growth of a fresh new idea to rebrand the region. The phrase “Tech Valley” was taking off with high hopes of luring big business. Today, that vision is a reality in what some would say is the most unlikely of places. Matt Hunter reports from Malta.
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MALTA, N.Y. -- It wasn't long ago Malta was viewed by many as little more than a pit stop between Albany and Saratoga, but as the 21st century began to take shape, that small town stigma started to wear off.
"The development isn't only happening here in Malta, it's happening throughout Saratoga County and throughout Capital District area," Malta Town Supervisor Paul Sausville said.
"I don't think it started off as a grand scheme project, I think it kind of grew into that," said Denise Romeo, vice president of the Saratoga County Chamber of Commerce.
In late 2005, state and local leaders took the early steps of luring a high tech semi-conductor manufacturer to the region.
With the bulk of the country's nanotech industry located thousands of miles away in California's Silicon Valley, it was a bold, perhaps unlikely, vision with big potential: billions of dollars and thousands of jobs.
One of the first companies they reached out to was Advanced Micro Devices, or AMD.
"We got a call that said hey, we're really working on getting a chip plant to come and locate in Upstate New York, if you guys are thinking about doing a new fab, we really want you to come check it out," said Travis Bullard, a former spokesperson for AMD.
In early 2006, AMD sent a site selection team to survey the area. What they found was a vast sea of wilderness known as Luther Forest.
"You have to bear in mind the Luther Forest is 1,350 acres of pristine green land,” Sausville said. “So they can locate their business in an area that's totally undeveloped."
"It was in June 2006 that we made the announcement that if AMD were going to build a new semiconductor fab, it was going to build it at the Luther Forest Technology Park right here in Saratoga County," Bullard said.
While that announcement gave local economic development professionals and politicians reason to cheer, bringing AMD to Malta wasn't that simple. Even after the state served up close to $1.5 billion in incentives, many thought the deal was bound to fall thorough.
"I remember first coming into this area many years ago there was a degree of pessimism," Bullard said.
"There were absolutely the naysayers that said this would never happen,” Romeo said.
In 2006, AMD finally announced plans for a $6.9 billion chip fab in Malta. That same year, they formed an offshoot company and named it GlobalFoundries.
Three years later, ground was broken on Fab 8, which officials promised would deliver at least 3,500 new high paying jobs.
As building after building went up on the massive GlobalFoundries site, business started booming in and around Malta. It seemed everyone wanted to cash in on the prosperity the company offered.
"I would say definitely 2010 that I definitely really started to get a sense this is really here, this is really going to happen,” Romeo said. “This has such tremendous potential for the communities in which we all live."
"It's extremely vital to have those offices, it helps to balance our population with local employment opportunities," Sausville said.
Not quite a decade after the first seeds were planted, GlobalFoundries is, as they say just a few miles north in Saratoga, "off to the races." More than 1,600 jobs have been filled and full-scale operations are expected to begin next year.
When AMD created GlobalFoundries, it diversified its focus away from a one technology, one company approach and now creates an array of products for nearly 150 customers. It's that change of course, coupled with its stepped up R and D plans that have company and local officials confident they'll stay competitive and in Malta.
"This really has become a bigger and better project,” said Bullard, who still works as a spokesperson for GlobalFoundries. “More jobs than originally anticipated, more investment from us than anticipated so I think it's a great win, it's a great success story for this region."
"When businesses succeed, everybody succeeds,” Romeo said. “For a project like GlobalFoundries, everybody in this community should be thankful every day that they chose Saratoga County for this project."
"We are truly the 21st century town that is our vision, it's becoming a reality," Sausville said.
The original GlobalFoundries site plan allows for two more fabs to be built in Luther Forrest. Just last month, company leaders submitted a site plan for a potential research and development center to the Malta town planning board.