Friday, September 13, 2013

Nano: Finally Getting It Right!

WKTV: Mohawk Valley EDGE finally succeeds in securing Marcy Nano site
Officials with the Mohawk Valley EDGE have travelled the globe time and time again in attempts to lure a chip-fab manufacturing plant to the Marcy Nano site at SUNYIT. In the end, the end user came...from Albany. The problem for years has been that an end user would not commit to the site without a wetlands permit in place, and the Army Corps of Engineers wouldn't grant the permit without an end user committed. But now, the EDGE has announced that CNSE, the College of Nanoscale Science and Engineering in Albany, will act as the committed end user; a developer, really, to build a 450 mm manufacturing facility on SUNYIT property in Marcy.
Here's why, for the first time, I think the NanoCenter project is going to succeed.

(1) The "Big Guns" have been brought in . . .

In this post from a year ago I said the following about the elusive federal wetlands permit . . .
EDGE and the County need to turn this problem over to Big Guns who are better equipped to deal with the Federal government and have as much, if not more, at stake: the State of New York. . . . The State has environmental expertise, has working relationships with the Federal environmental agencies, and even has a potential to assume some of the federal authority in certain circumstances. Marcy NanoCenter is beyond local capabilities to pull off.
Bringing in the CNSE as developer is bringing in the "Big Guns." These guys have a track record of success.

(2) The Feds finally have a credible "end user" of the site that they can hold accountable . . .

In another post from over a year ago commenting about EDGE's creation of another not-for-profit I said:
Frankly, if I was the Army Corps I probably would not issue a final permit either. With the "wheels within wheels" approach, just whom would the Army Corps hold accountable to ensure that all permit conditions are complied with? SUNYIT? EDGE? Fort Schuyler Management (with no track record, no assets, and no individual co-signers to secure performance)? An unknown developer or tenant for the site? There are too many players involved for the Army Corps -- or we the taxpayers -- to keep track of.
With CNSE as developer, the Federal Army Corps of Engineers only needs to deal with one entity, CNSE, that will have control over the site. In the end, the situation becomes somewhat similar to the shopping centers which have obtained ACE wetlands permits without securing tenants. EDGE could not credibly substitute as a "shopping center" developer . . . but CNSE can.

This is going to work!


Anonymous said...

You and the EDGE may be totally wrong. As I read the deal, the CNS which is actually the taxpayer, will build and own the facility. That translates to the taxpayer basically building its own chip plant.Will the appropriate level of private development be attracted to support the past and future taxpayer supported cost? Will leases which are written down to attract private users bbring enough revenue to pay for the sprawl you so rant against in other instances?

One thing you are correct about is that the myth that the EDGE could ever attract a company to the site has been finally exposed, millions of dollars too late.

Goverment is rarely a sound, successful developer. Will it be here? If we were told from the outset that we were creating a site with taxpayer money that the taxpayer would than have to support to build, would we have done it at all?

Anonymous said...

The government seed money is miniscule compared to the benefits received. Of course complete abdication on payment of taxes shouldn't happen. Hopefully the local municipalities get it right with respect to tax revenue to maintain and develop local infrastructure (throughout the area) to support this industry.

I think one of the real benefits, aside from providing direct and indirect jobs, is the impact on the City's real estate market - here is the catalyst for redeveloping downtown with retail, entertainment and housing. Those old mill buildings must be looking very attractive to astute developers monitoring this project. Live work lofts for the young techies, space for spin off industries.

Hopefully the county, city and surrounding towns can work together to divide the pie in "right sized slices" and provide the necessary "guidance" to maintain the environment and quality of life (traffic, pollution, noise etc.)

If this project happens, for a place as hard hit as Utica, this industry is long needed shot in the arm. Let's hope its not just a dream.

Anonymous said...

The thinking above is eaxactly what has made New York and our area what ir is; lead with government money, resulting high taxes and what goes with it. The "seed" money may be worth it IF benefits are received in the form of significant private investment. In other words,more public money is being used and risked with the hope that private investment will follow. And, to pay the huge taxpayer tab already on the line, that private investrment sure better be big! The only sensible way to accomplish these developments is the create the public/private partnership before large amounts of money are risked. That is how the real world of development exists. The track record of EDGE may tell you somwething about the folly of how we fumble about. By the way , a "hope" is a "dream". The taxpayer should not pay for dreams.

Anonymous said...

The writings of Strikeslip claim that the absence of a permit is the only factor that has prevented development of the chip plant. What makes you conclude or know that?

Anonymous said...

Is not CNSE just a larger, more talented EDGE basically a nonprofit backed by the State government? How could they possibly be compared to a private sector shopping center developer?

Strikeslip said...

Good points all. To Anonymous 7:56 if you are a regular reader of this blog, you know that the Wetland Permit is not the only factor that has prevented development of the chip plant. . . . but it has been a major stumbling block.

While I am hoping that this project pans out because Greater Utica has been waiting far to long for something good to happen on the jobs front, it does not change my core belief that this method of economic development is dead wrong.

There should NOT be "public-private" partnerships because the "public" does not stand in the shoes of a "partner" in costs, benefits, or decisionmaking. Government exists to provide essential governmental services that cannot be provided by the private sector, not substitute for the private sector. The distortion of the marketplace places burdens on sectors and private businesses that are not part of whatever project is pending, and those burdens often drive other good jobs, and population, away.

Silence DoGood said...

This is good news for all of us. Now I feel I can invest in my home once again so I can sell it in three to five years before I retire and move. My career will be done by then. But for those left behind should benefit from this news. You can't continue to tax people without returning to those same people some benefits.

I hope that all the project management, checks and accountablility come out of Albany because this is way to much money for the locals to handle and be responsible for. If I recall Strike its like 3 to 5 layers of paperwork in setting up the land deal and development corporations. Why should this be so complicated? In my life experiece, this usually means something can go wrong with deals, money transfer and accountablility .

My hope is the area can succeed because this plant should attract some world class talent. Maybe the political climate will have to change too, because this talent and corporations will not accept the past performace of our local representatives.

Anonymous said...

Strike, your comment about the public/private realtionship is spot on. In New York and Oneida County it is up side down. That is why we have lost people and business. But, I fear that the over reliance on government that flows throughout our local area is so ingrained that it cannot be reversed.

Anonymous said...

Will and should people start making investments when not one company or new job has been secured? Perhaps the news media and political class are promoting this as if it was more than a substitute developer to take the place of the EDGE. A developer is not a development. The jobs making OD headlines are not actual; they are a "plan".

Of course all who own property here, hope something truly positive will happen. I will remain hopeful and skeptical. We've had far too many "we hopes", "mays" and "plans" described in the OD. They call this front page news; I call it front page hype.Spending more tax dollars on plans is not the answer to our weak economy.

Anonymous said...

Strikeslip, let us in on the info. How do you know that the lack of a permit has been a "major" stumbling block? What company or companies did not come in because of that? Companies come in all of the time without all of the permits being secured up front. They don't finalize their plans or start major expenditures before that happens, but they do select locations.