NY Capital (Albany) Region

New York Capital (Albany) Region: Poised for Cutting Edge Growth Then and Now

History is repeating itself’ within the “Greater Capital Region,” Albany area. One of the most significant announcements was made on June 23, 2006 regarding an agreement reached between the State of New York and AMD (Advanced Micro Devices) to locate and develop a $3.2 billion, 1,200,000 square foot facility in Southern Saratoga County in the towns of Malta and Stillwater off exit 12 of I-87 (The Northway). This ADM facility, which is to be a computer chip plant, will be located in what is known as the Luther Forest Technology Campus that encompasses 1,300 acres. It is anticipated that it will initially lead off with approximately 1,200 jobs which in turn will have the potential impact of generating an additional indirect business and support employment of another 3,000.

This follows the positioning of this vibrant region, which is referred to today as “Tech Valley,” as leading the way in nanotechnology, bio-medical, and bio-engineering among other cutting edge activity. There are 15 colleges and universities within the region, many of which are involved in new technology. Union College, located in Schenectady, was the first chartered college in the country and is part of Union University which is also composed of Albany College of Pharmacy and Albany Law School. The State University of New York at Albany (SUNY) is the first institution in the nation to have established a College of “Nanotechnology” in 2005 dealing with the research and development of the next generation of more powerful computer chips and applications to computer components. This is coordinated by a joint venture with IBM, the State of NY and other related firms, e.g. International Sematech of Austin, TX and Tokyo Electron of Japan among others. Other significant areas of advanced technology are evidenced by the General Electric Company jointly sponsoring a multi-million development of a “Bio-engineering” building at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI). In addition the area is home to the development of the David Axlerod Institute of Public Health for biomedical research along with the Center for Medical Sciences for the development of new drugs and treatments. Recently, New York beat out more than 10 states and top academic institutions such as MIT, Harvard and the University of Texas, Austin, in consideration of being the home of a $435 million Institute for Nanoelectronics Discovery and Exploration (INDEX). INDEX is expected to increase employment at the Nano Tech facility by 30% by 2007 with salaries between $80,000 and $100,000. Overall, 12,000-14,000 new high-tech jobs have been created in Albany’s Tech Valley. This region is now identified along with Austin and California’s Silicone Valley as one of three centers of excellence in chip technology. Over the past 5 years, billions of dollars have been invested in “research & development” and distribution facilities.

Although the greater Albany MSA had been sleepy for a number of years, today it has appeared in national and international publications as one of the nation’s “top places to live and work.” The unemployment rate generally runs between 3.4 to 4.0 +/- with seasonal variation; it has one of the lowest unemployment rates within NY as well as the nation.

Furthermore, General Electric has expanded its Research & Development complex in Niskayuna, Schenectady County, to where it now identified as the “Global Headquarters for GE Research & Development.” Adjacent to this G. E. research facility, the firm has an international training center for engineers who are attending from around the world. Also, in this immediate area is the facility known as “KAPL” (Knolls Atomic Power Laboratory) operated by Martin-Marrietta. There are a multitude of research and development firms located within the region adding to the new technologies that have been and are being developed. Another major “tech park” park presently being developed is what is known as the Harriman Campus, this site formerly housed several of the NY State government agencies which are being relocated; this site is adjacent the State University of NY and being redeveloped as a high technology park to further enhance the technological developments taking place within the Capital Region. In Plattsburgh within the Lake Champlain area, the departure in the 1990’s of the Air Force Base, allowed the region to attract the Bombardier firm with 600 jobs and now addition of the Laurentian Aerospace Corp which will add 700 jobs with the expectation of 1,500 jobs at this Canadian aircraft facility.

Although the western sector of NY State is experiencing a population loss, this region is experiencing a “net in-migration” of population. From New York City metro area northward along the Hudson Valley including the Lake Champlain area has experienced much economic growth. The traditional cities within the region have a decline in population, however, the overall region has a population growth within the suburban sector. A unique characteristic of this region is that it is the crossroads for transportation. Namely, the region is intersected by 3 interstate highways from Boston to Buffalo and westward, from New York City to Montreal, Canada, and from Albany to the southern tier of the state. Albany has a deep water inland port for ocean going vessels leading to the Atlantic, the Amtrak rail station is the 10th busiest in the country out of over 500 stations with 14 daily trains running from Albany to New York City. Albany is a connecting point for trains between Boston and Chicago, New York and Montreal and Toronto, Canada. The Albany International Airport offers some of the lowest air fares in the country. Thus, in addition to the technology experience, the Capital Region is a major hub for distribution centers due to the ideal blend of transportation services. There is a strong economic tie between NY State and the Provinces of Quebec and Ontario of Canada connected with 3 major interstate highways.

Quality of life is another feature that is a draw for the region with its array of performing arts and recreational activities within easy reach such as downhill and cross county skiing, the 6,000,000 acre Adirondack Park with its lakes for water sports activities such as Lake George.

Within the “Capital (Albany) Region” class “A” office space reflects a vacancy factor of around 4%, class “A” and “B” apartments are presently showing a 5% +/- vacancy factor, and for retail, there is only nominal vacancy. Four of the regional shopping center malls have repositioned themselves by eliminating the mall concept and have gone to open “air power strip centers,” and the remaining malls are being upgraded and or expanding. The single family residential market for the first quarter of 2006 indicated a gain of 9% in values as compared to the same time frame the previous year which had a 14% valuation increase. The region’s median residential sale price was noted to be $185,000. Apartment complexes in the “A & B” class have been selling at a cap rate of 7.5% +/-.

Albany and the surrounding region was first settled by the Dutch in 1614, then known as Ft. Orange after having been explored by Hendrick Hudson, and a permanent settlement 6 years prior to the Pilgrims landing at Plymouth Rock. Shortly thereafter as the settlement grew it was renamed “Beverwick.” In 1664, the lands came under the control of the English, and, subsequently were renamed Albany. The Capital District consists of Albany, Schenectady, Rensselaer, and Saratoga Counties; the Capital Region is made up of 9 counties. The region has long been a leader in new technology. Some of the innovations that have been developed in the region are the “steamboat” in 1825 with several ships plying the Hudson River between Albany and New York City. In 1831, the first train, which was built in Schenectady, ran between Schenectady and Albany. Shortly thereafter the Erie Canal was completed connecting the Great Lakes region at Buffalo to the Atlantic. Also, the first broadcast of television was from the General Electric plant in Schenectady to the home of Dr. Alexanderson, a G. E. scientist living near Union College in Schenectady; and, the first airplane jet engines were developed and tested at the Schenectady G. E. plant. Then, as today, from the time of Edison and Steinmetz the Capital Region has led in new technology.

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