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The Feature Creep

Join Date: Feb 2005
Location: Boston, MA
Posts: 1055

How to Create a High Tech Mecca

03/22/2005 5:49 AM

What makes for a great "tech region"? I've worked in Boston's 495 Tech Belt and visited both the Richardson, Texas and Huntsville, Alabama (Huntsville has one of the highest ratio of engineers to other occupations in the country).

I'm just wondering what makes for a great technology area? The Albany / Upper Hudson region is trying to build a reputation as "The Place" for Nanotechnology, and there are a fair number of alternative energy companies (Plug Power, Daystar, etc.) in the area. There are also higher learning centers (RPI, SUNY Albany, Union, etc.).

What does Albany need to improve on to be seen as a tech region? What are its other strengths?

Is there anything that elected representatives such as Mayor Jennings or Governor Pataki could do to make this region more like Silicon Valley?

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#1

Sematech

03/23/2005 9:07 AM

A few years ago, when the Sematech venture was first announced, it seemed like the Upper hudson valley was getting the push it needed. Pataki was behind a five year plan for it, tax incentives were being given, property values went up, and there was talk of all the support industry that would be needed (which would bring in more high tech jobs).

Well, three years later on, property values are coming back down and the government has become very quiet about growning the "Tech Valley". I find this very interesting since both Pataki and Jerry Jennings are moving into election years. As far as I can tell, the Sematech plan has been scaled back.

That said, there are still a lot of tech companies in the "Tech Valley" that are doing very well. Silicon Valley-esque, certainly not, but it is thriving. Could more be done by state & local government, sure. but it would need to be a full committment.

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The Feature Creep

Join Date: Feb 2005
Location: Boston, MA
Posts: 1055
#3
In reply to #1

Re:Sematech

03/31/2005 3:29 PM

I read an article in the Tech Valley Times (a very good read) a while ago about what the area needs to become a powerhouse back in 2003 and made a report card

From what I've heard from local people the area is VERY unforgiving of failure. The fear of a start-up going belly-up and becoming a pariah is the kiss of death to entrepreneurship. Politicians are even more gun shy of anything that smacks of failure and risk. It just seems that the local politicians, banks and institutions can not enable the blind optimism and hope that a start-up environment needs.

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#2

great question

03/24/2005 10:05 AM

and one I've thought about a lot. Having worked in the semiconductor industry, I was thrilled to see a push for nanotechnology in our area. But I'm not sure that attracting high tech is much different than low tech. The area needs to be open to growth. We can't shut down new facilities being built because they aren't pretty, and people don't understand what they'll entail.

I don't want to be a concrete jungle, but with planning and care we could be an attractive destination for high tech industry.

There are rarely simple answers to acheiving growth, but tax incentives are good to attract industry, and we need to be able to educate people better as to what new facilities such as chip fabs will bring to the area.

The other night I saw an ad (paid for by the NY Jets) for the new sports complex which went on and on about all the new jobs, great opportunities, blah blah blah it will bring.

So, no answers, but some discussion.

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The Feature Creep

Join Date: Feb 2005
Location: Boston, MA
Posts: 1055
#4
In reply to #2

Re:great question

03/31/2005 3:37 PM

Not In My BackYard (NIMBY) is a huge factor around here. They say they don't want something "ugly" and then complain that there are no opportunities here for their children. *sigh*

Lets face it, Albany has VERY little going for it and the types of jobs that used to be here are never going to come back. Almost anyone who has the money or the education to leave the area has already done so years ago (I know that is a broad statement). We have massive universities, but we have nothing to make the students stay. They get their degree's and leave.

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