SYRACUSE — President Joe Biden returned to his former stomping grounds of Syracuse last week to celebrate the announcement that Micron Technology will invest $100 billion in a semiconductor manufacturing facility in the town of Clay. Biden, a 1968 graduate of the Syracuse University College of Law, delivered remarks Oct. 27 at Onondaga Community College.
“It’s good to be in a place that means so, so much to me and that means so much to our country with the project we’re here to celebrate today,” Biden said.
Micron announced Oct. 4 that it plans to build four semiconductor chip fabs over the course of 20 years at the White Pine Commerce Park in Clay.
In his law school days, Biden recalled, Central New York was the “heartland of manufacturing” with thriving companies such as Kodak, Corning and General Electric. Biden commended New York State Gov. Kathy Hochul and Sen. Chuck Schumer for their vision of restoring New York to its former industrial glory.
“The governor has always believed it could be that way again. She thought that would be the case, and the region is poised to lead the world in advanced manufacturing,” Biden said, emphasizing, “Not a joke — poised to lead the world.”
Schumer authored the CHIPS and Science Act, which provides $52.7 billion for semiconductor research, workforce development and incentives for manufacturers. Biden signed it into law in August.
NYS expanded tax credits for semiconductor manufacturers with the Green CHIPS law, authored by Assemblymember Al Stirpe (D-North Syracuse, 127th District).
“What I hear when I go door to door is that we need good-paying local jobs here in Central New York. Parents don’t want their kids to have to move away to find work. They want their grandkids to grow up here,” Stirpe said following Biden’s visit. “The Green CHIPS law, which I authored and passed earlier this year, provided the incentives necessary for Micron to choose to build here. And this is just the start. This new investment places our region in the spotlight for jobs, and makes us a central player in the future of this fast-growing industry.”
In her introduction of Biden, master electrician Shawni Davis said the president understands the value of workers and unions. Davis is a member of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 43 and owner of Luminary Electrical.
“We are here and we are ready to power up New York’s long-awaited manufacturing rebirth,” Davis said.
Just two days before early voting began in New York, Biden’s speech veered into campaign territory for his party. Democrats are hoping to hold onto their slim majority in the House of Representatives and the Senate during the midterm elections.
“I’ve said from the beginning that my objective is to build an economy from the bottom up and the middle out. An economy that rewards work, not just wealth. An economy that works for everyone so the poor have a ladder up, the middle class can do better. And when that happens, the wealthy do very well,” Biden said. “It’s a fundamental shift, and it’s working compared to what the very conservative Republicans are offering these days.”
Biden emphasized corporate tax reform, caps on prescription drug prices for seniors and job creation among his administration’s accomplishments. He said 10 million new jobs have been created and unemployment dipped from 6.4% to 3.5%. He criticized former President Donald Trump for the unemployment rate and stagnation of infrastructure improvements during Trump’s term.
“My predecessor was the first president since Herbert Hoover — not a joke — to lose jobs in the entirety of his administration,” Biden said.
Biden said Republicans are “determined to cut Social Security and Medicare, and they’re willing to take down the economy over it.”
Despite his fears about the GOP platform, Biden ended his speech on a brighter note.
“I’ve never been more optimistic in my life about America’s future. I mean it sincerely. Not because I’m president, but because we have entrepreneurs and people who know what they’re doing to lead us through … a completely different era in terms of the kinds of technologies we need, like this man right here,” he said, gesturing to Micron CEO Sanjay Mehrotra.
“I hope you feel what I feel standing here today: pride,” Biden said. “Pride in what we can do when we do it together to build a better America … proving to the world that our best days are ahead of us.”
Dana Krinsky and Ava McCann, two first-year SU law students, were among the few hundred people who scored tickets to Biden’s speech.
“We wanted to support our — his — alma mater,” Krinsky said. “It’s rare that the current president is from your alma mater.”
McCann, who grew up in the Binghamton area, said Micron’s investment in Upstate New York is “awesome” and is “going to provide a lot of opportunity for the area.”
“I personally wanted to stay in the area because I was raised in Central New York, but it makes me want to stay even more,” McCann said.
“I think from an alumni standpoint it’ll draw more of us back here,” Krinsky said.
Tim Penix, an employee of the State University of New York and a lifelong CNY resident, said Micron is going to change the future of the region and the state.
Penix said Micron has focused on engaging Central New Yorkers of all backgrounds to ensure equity for jobseekers.
“I have seen more on-the-ground attention to diverse communities [from Micron] than any other companies,” he said. “I believe we’re going to see a transformation.”