Syracuse, NY — The state’s $28 million investment in a nanotechnology research and development center in Salina is evidence of a significant shift in job-creation strategy for Central and Upstate New York.
The deal was announced Thursday by Assemblyman Al Stirpe, D-North Syracuse, and representatives of Centerstate CEO, Lockheed Martin and the College for Nanoscale
Science and Engineering at SUNY Albany.
Instead of throwing a last-ditch lifeline to a company on the verge of closing or pulling out of the area, this strategic investments of state taxpayer money aims to:
• Cultivate world-class expertise in nanotechnology — the science of manipulating matter at the molecular level — through affiliation with the sprawling CNSE enterprise in Albany. Nanotechnology is an emerging field with applications in all manner of industries and products, from computer chips to batteries to radar.
• Leverage that knowledge in other parts of the state. In Central New York, the new R&D lab will occupy the vacant General Electric Co. Electronics Laboratory. It will be stocked with $12 million in specialized equipment, a “sticky asset” that already is attracting high-tech companies and talent to the area.
• Enlist the private sector to attract jobs. Lockheed Martin Corp., one of Onondaga County’s largest private employers, will be the nanotechnology center’s “anchor” tenant. The company believes nanotechnology is the key to innovation in its defense and homeland security businesses. Small, innovative companies that want to do business with Lockheed will have to come to Central New York to do it — and bring their jobs along with them. They’ll get something out of the deal, too — a rich talent pool, synergy with other companies and an affordable way of life for their employees. Plus, creating a technology center so integral to Lockheed’s future bodes well for keeping its 2,400 jobs in Salina.
• Bringing nanotechnology into Central New York middle schools and high schools as a key component of science education. CNSE already has a training program for technology teachers in the Albany area, and is prepared to roll it out in Central New York. Give kids the tools to look at an atom, the theory goes, and they’ll be hooked on science for life. Educating a work force literate in science is critical to the future of Lockheed and other high-tech companies, and it’s critical to the future of Syracuse and Central New York.
The antidote to brain drain will be high-paying, high-tech jobs — like the 250 positions expected to flow from the nanotechnology R&D center in Salina. Here’s hoping the promise is fulfilled.