Dec 29, 2006

Google eyes expansion -- but why not in NY?

The word floating aroung the tech world (of which Nano Burgh is just a small part of) is that the two Carolinas, North and South, are in a bit of a bidding war over the priviledge of hosting a new Google server farm. While NC is used to playing in this economic incentives poker game, this is a rare initiative for SC to undertake.

The Tar Heel State (thats NC, for those of you that don't follow sports) has reportedly offered a $4.7million grant to make this happen. Getting out the calculator, and comparing that figure to the estimated 240 jobs that would be created, I get a result of approximatley $20K per job. Not a bad return, if it sells.

Just for comparison's sake, put that fig alongside New York State' Luther Forest /AMD chip fab incentive package of over $1million per job.

Why isn't NY finding the will to win -- or even comnpeter for ---- this type of 21st century, new economy project? The answer is simple: the state's economic development and political communities' infatuation with the mantra of creating "high paying manufacturing jobs" is preventing it from doing so.

An argument can be made -- including by this observer -- that a Google facility has a greater economic impact on a host community than does a chip fab plant. I'd be happy to debate that contention with anyone inclined to do so, in either a public or a private setting. Take your pick--name your dueling ground.

Imagine this: what if the state had used the $1.2billion Luther Forest investment to fund /create a "free bandwidth zone" at the Harriman Campus and at the RPI Tech Park? I''m talking the biggest, baddest and fastest pipes possible here that could support the infrastructure needs of companies like Google or Amazon or eBay. Afterall, bandwidth costs are the #2 operating expenses (after talent) for these types of new economy firms.

Take that cost off their income statements, and the Capital Region would be hard pressed to accomodate all the companies that would want to move here. Now wouldn't that be a refreshing change?

So, when do undertake the requisite paradigm shift in regional economic development policy and start thinking in these terms ?

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