Nov 15, 2007
I have long been viewed as a 'critic' of the AMD @ Luther Forest chip fab project. Such a characterization is an over-simplicifcation of my opinions on this complex subject, but then again, we live in a world of simplification and sound bites.
In a nutshell (look, even I can over-simplify), here's where I have long stood on the matter:
- A chip fab being built and located in the region, employing many hundreds of people, is a good thing. A VERY good thing.
- Working to attract such a project is a worthwhile endeavor.
- Such an endeavor is well within the mission of Saratoga Economic Development Corporation.
- But the goals of a Saratoga - based economic development organization might not necessarily be in the best interests of the greater Capital Region or New York state as a whole. Hence, the question of whether the location of this plant at the designated location being a good example of proper regional planning or not is a legitimate concern to be raised and discussed. But it wasn't.
- Furthermore, I believe that while it is proper to direct economic development incentives towards target industries, I get concerned when they are directed and granted to individual companies, as is the case with AMD.
- I also believe that a chip fab -- while having a "high-tech" image in the public mindset, is in reality, primarily an old-world type of manufacturing business. Such businesses/industries are driven by technologies and processes that were developed elsewhere and therefore do not play into the 'Innovation Age' economic world order, which is where we need to be directing our regional development efforts.
- While the economic multiplier benefits of a chip fab are indeed significant (again: I'm all for a local chip fab), they are insignificant when compared to more enlightened and proper regional development inititatives.
- Given that POV, I get concerend and disheartened when the AMD chip fab is held up as the poster child of the Captial Region / Tech Valley / NYS's economic development initiatives.
That's been my position since Day One. I've taken hits for it (public and private; business and personal); but I have also learned that I am far from alone in this thinking within the Tech Valley business community.
I know that this stance has put me in disfavor with the good folks at Saratoga Economic Developement Corporation over the past couple of years. That's fine, and I can understand why. I also believe that if they better understood my reasoning, such divisiveness would be minimized. For that, I take the blame.
Which brings us to this week's news; of the group's longtime CEO resigning just days after his arrest on a well-publicized DWI allegation in the Spa City. Given the popular theory that our two camps are philosophical opposites (which we aren't), many have asked for my opinion on these related events. Again, my over-simplification:
- The gentleman's tenure at SEDC should be considered a grand success; given the very specific group mission and his charge from his own managing Board of Directors. As said, even though I raise certain concerns about his landmark project, that project fits squarely into SEDC's wheel house -- and SEDC is his Report-To, not a know-it-all like me.
- This week's unfortunate incident should not become part of his historical legacy. It is for that reason I elect not to even mention the gentleman's name in this posting; thereby doing my small part NOT to connect him with the phrase 'DWI' in search engine directories that will last deep into the future.
- Furthermore, I am disappointed that the gentleman felt obliged to resign from his position because of his arrest. Would he have felt the need to do the same, if he had been arrested for speeding 85 in a 35 mph zone, for example? Would the public be expecting of such in that scenario? After all, excessive speed is a larger cause of highway deaths than alcohol impairment. But that's a discussion for another day, on another forum.
For now, let us conclude that no one feels real good about this week's turn of events. Certainly not his alleged chief critic.