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$15M Investment Changes Syracuse’s Future

About a year ago, Onondaga Community College in Syracuse, NY announced that it had received a grant from semiconductor manufacturer Micron, which is locating a new $100B chip fabrication facility there. The purpose of the grant was to help the college build a clean room facility to train people for up to 9,000 jobs the fabrication facility will create.

In addition to the $5M grant from Micron, the State of New York and Onondaga County will also ante up $5M each to fund construction of the campus facility. When complete, the 2.4M square foot facility will be the largest clean room in the United States. To put that in perspective, 2.4M square feet is literally twice the size of all of WCC’s campus buildings. This facility will be huge.

(I don’t have anything to back this up, but I am pretty sure that OCC will budget more than $0.25 per square foot to maintain that facility.)

The price tag on the clean room project is $15M. That’s less money than WCC has spent on the Health and Fitness Center. You may have already noticed this, but the Health and Fitness Center at WCC has not created 9,000 jobs nor has it attracted any $100B investments in Washtenaw County.

At least, not so far.

$15M is nearly as much money as WCC spent to rehab the Morris Lawrence Building after literally a decade of neglect. (Neglect is really expensive, by the way. The original price tag to fix the ML Building was about $3M.)

$15M is about 1.5 times the last reported cost of the “Advanced Transportation Center,” whose design rendered the building 75% academically useless. I’m not confident that the “Advanced Transportation Center” could attract a $100B investment in Washtenaw County, either.

What could we build with $15M?

My point is that a combined $15M in Onondaga Community College will support a $100B investment in Onondaga County. Every dollar spent on that building will return $6,666 to the county in the form of new industry, and hundreds of millions more in the 50,000 direct and indirect jobs the Micron plant will produce.

Onondaga Community College’s trustees aren’t sitting around talking about which hotel chain they want managing a hypothetical hotel, or what kind of retail businesses could fill up the OCC parking lots. They’re talking about how they need to modify their degree programs to meet Micron’s workforce needs. They’re talking about what other programs they can and should offer to support the Syracuse economy. And how to attract even more businesses and industries to Onondaga County.

Photo Credit: Universit√† Ca’ Foscari Venezia, via Flickr