CENTRAL NEW YORK — Much of the coverage of Micron Technology’s $100 billion investment in a semiconductor megafab in the town of Clay has focused on the 50,000 jobs the project will bring to Central New York over the next 20 years. But the company is also planting the seeds for CNY’s future workforce by investing in education and the community.
Micron revealed more details about its plans to partner with K-12 schools, higher education institutions and the region’s large veteran population at an event Oct. 27 at Onondaga Community College featuring President Joe Biden.
“We have our work cut out for us. There’s a long lead time,” April Arnzen, Micron’s senior vice president and chief people officer, told Eagle Newspapers.
Over the next 10 years, Micron and Onondaga County will invest $10 million in building a clean room at OCC.
“This investment will provide students access to advanced manufacturing methods and equipment to prepare them for technician and engineering roles inside Micron’s manufacturing facility,” read a statement from Micron.
Arnzen said collaborations with area colleges and universities — Syracuse University, the SUNY network, Cornell, Clarkson, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and Rochester Institute of Technology — will allow engineering programs to customize their curricula to the semiconductor industry’s needs as the chip fab is built out over the next two decades. Micron already has a partnership with RIT.
“We can scale,” she said.
Micron is looking beyond traditional educational pathways to develop its employee base.
“We’ve got to partner with community colleges to develop pipelines for folks who might not go to a four-year school,” Arnzen said.
Micron plans to set up training centers to recruit and educate employees from different socioeconomic, racial and cultural backgrounds.
Syracuse University and Micron will partner to create workforce development programs at SU’s D’Aniello Institute of Veteran and Military Families (IVMF). Arnzen said CNY has a “rich veteran community.”
“It is a very smooth transition between our roles and what they learn in the military,” Arnzen said.
Micron’s goal is to hire at least 1,500 veterans over the next 20 years. The company announced its first intern hire Oct. 27: SU electrical engineering student and Navy veteran Savion Pollard.
Construction on the Clay facility is expected to begin in 2024, generating 5,000 construction jobs. Micron pledged to spend 30% of construction expenses on New York State Certified Minority/Women Owned Business Enterprises and Service-Disabled Veteran Owned Businesses. The company is urging its contractors to hire through Syracuse Mayor Ben Walsh’s Syracuse Build initiative, a workforce development program that offers area residents a path to a construction career.
Micron is not just investing in higher education and employee programs. The company has committed to funding early childhood and K-12 programs as well.
“That has always been core to us,” Arnzen said.
Micron will invest $500,000 in the YMCA of Central New York’s childcare and early childhood educational programs. The company also announced a $500,000 sponsorship of the Museum of Science and Technology (MOST), which will fund an interactive semiconductor exhibit and STEM camps.
Over the next decade, Micron will invest $10 million Syracuse STEAM school, which brings together the disciplines of science, technology, engineering, art and math.
“The regional facility will offer unprecedented opportunities in emerging technologies and the arts to socioeconomically, racially and geographically diverse students. This investment will serve as a catalyst for future private developments and collaboration in the region,” read a statement from Micron.
Micron’s K-12 programs are designed to “reach historically marginalized students and reduce barriers to future STEM careers.” One such program is Micron’s Chip Camps, which offer junior-high students an introduction to semiconductors and other STEM topics. Chip Camps are held across the country, Arnzen said.
These programs will be available to students in every corner of Onondaga County, Arnzen said, through Micron’s own outreach as well as partnerships with the YMCA and other organizations.
Liverpool Central School District Superintendent Daniel Henner applauded Micron’s commitment to K-12 education.
“The addition of Micron to the Central New York community will provide the Liverpool Central School District, as well as districts across the region, with numerous educational opportunities for students in grades K-12. Programs such as Chip Camp, Girls Going Tech and Careers in a High-Tech World will enhance Liverpool’s newly introduced career pathways that will prepare our students for their future careers. We look forward to working with Micron for years to come,” Henner said.
Community and culture
While the White Pine Commerce Park is strategically located near a National Grid substation, Syracuse Hancock International Airport and major highways, Arnzen emphasized that the community culture was what sealed the deal for Micron.
“The collaboration and the partnership and the tenacity to tackle tough challenges — those values are so similar to those we hold in our company,” she said.
Leaders at the municipal, state and federal levels have been very eager to work with Micron, Arnzen said. New York State and Onondaga County attracted Micron with a slew of tax credits, grants and other incentives. In return, Micron must deliver on its promises to generate jobs, power its facility with 100% renewable energy and sign the Community Investment Framework. This agreement includes the creation of a $500 million Green CHIPS Community Investment Fund. Micron is contributing $250 million to this fund, and New York State and other governmental partners will contribute the rest.
Arnzen said she understood the skepticism from some concerned Central New Yorkers, who have expressed worries about traffic, increased demand on educational and healthcare systems, and environmental issues. Micron plans to hold quarterly town hall meetings so area residents can share their concerns and needs, and the company vowed to work with local and state government to tackle infrastructure challenges and other issues.
“I would have those same questions and concerns [if I were them],” she said. “We will make an impact in this community. They will hear what we have to say — but more importantly, they will see our actions.”
To watch remarks from Micron CEO Sanjay Mehrotra, President Joe Biden and others at the Oct. 27 OCC event, visit micron.com/ny.