September 24, 2010
By: by Robin Cooper, The Business Review
Gov. David Paterson has approved a state land lease enabling the University at Albany to expand its nanotechnology research center and create more than 1,250 new high-tech jobs.
Paterson signed a bill last week that permits the State University of New York to lease 11 acres to Fuller Road Management Corp. to accommodate new offices, labs and cleanrooms for UAlbany's College of Nanoscale Science and Engineering.
"There was some skepticism about the nanoscale [expansion] being in Albany and not serving the whole state," said SUNY Chancellor Nancy Zimpher.
But the research center also known as Albany NanoTech has become a catalyst attracting private investment and leading to research and business development throughout New York, Zimpher said.
"Nano has become the poster child for the ‘Power of SUNY.' It talks about what we could do for the rest of the state."
SUNY's new strategic plan calls for encouraging state universities to collaborate more with businesses and private investors to drive innovation, create jobs and rebuild the economy.
To make that happen, Zimpher has argued that New York lawmakers need to give SUNY the authority to lease land more easily, something the Legislature failed to do this year.
Albany NanoTech is a prime example of how SUNY can be an economic engine, Zimpher said.
The research center has grown over the past 13 years into a $6.5 billion complex employing more than 2,500 scientists and high-tech workers who are focused on nanotechnology research, education and business development.
The latest expansion calls for up to three buildings totaling 460,000 square feet that would include cleanrooms for nanotechnology research, offices and other labs, according to state documents.
"It's amazing how it has grown," said Sen. Neil Breslin (D-Albany). "It went from many people who were nonbelievers to people being total believers."
State documents say the $1.5 billion project is expected to increase employment to more than 3,750 scientists, engineers and researchers from the college and global corporations.
"They think they are going to do $1 billion in business over there," Breslin said.
Rick Whitney, president and CEO of M+W USA Inc. contracting firm, said in August that his company is competing to work on the Albany NanoTech expansion.
M+W has been involved in several construction projects at the research center and currently is overseeing construction of GlobalFoundries $4.2 billion computer chip plant in Malta, about 25 miles north of the UAlbany campus.