MARCY, N.Y. — For two years, Mohawk Valley residents have watched a building take shape on the hills alongside SUNY Polytechnic Institute in the town of Marcy.
On April 25, Oneida County Executive Anthony J. Picente, Jr. stood with Gov. Kathy Hochul and an array of area leaders to celebrate the grand opening of that building — the Wolfspeed 200mm silicon-carbide fabrication facility at the Marcy Nanocenter.
Wolfspeed (NYSE: WOLF) is a silicon-carbide technology and manufacturing firm headquartered in North Carolina. Its products are used in power devices and RF devices in electric vehicles, fast chargers, 5G applications, and the renewable energy, aerospace, and defense industries.
“It’s one hell of a view,” Picente said of the Wolfspeed facility.
Wolfspeed’s opening is the culmination of a process that started in 1998, he said, and represents the future of the Mohawk Valley.
Its opening dovetails with Gov. Hochul’s April 22 announcement that the state is going after billions in federal funding to establish the state’s Albany Nanotech Complex as a primary research and development hub and headquarters of a proposed National Semiconductor Technology Center.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, supply-chain issues heavily impacted certain industries, especially auto manufacturers that could not obtain the microchips they needed to build new cars.
The solution to that, Gov. Hochul said at the Wolfspeed grand opening, is to make the chips here in New York. There are already 88 semiconductor-based businesses in the state generating a $5 billion economic impact with 34,000 jobs, she said. That’s why with up to $52 billion in federal funding at stake, “we’re really laser focused on semiconductors,” the governor stressed.
When asked about a proposed plan she announced at the beginning of the year to relocate SUNY Poly’s College of Nanoscale Science and Engineering to SUNY Albany and whether that plan will change now that Wolfspeed has opened, Hochul would only say that she has engaged in “productive conversations” with area leaders on the subject.
Oneida County is currently hosting a petition on change.org, asking the governor to leave the College of Nanoscale Science and Engineering at SUNY Poly, where it will benefit Wolfspeed, as well as potential future tenants of the Marcy Nanocenter.
Wolfspeed’s products are already in use in electric vehicles. At the April 25 event, Wolfspeed CEO Gregg Lowe announced the company signed a multi-year agreement to supply silicon-carbide semiconductors to Lucid Motors for use in its Lucid Air luxury electric vehicle. The company will produce those semiconductors in Marcy.
A Lucid Motors official told the crowd that Wolfspeed is the best choice because, simply put, its silicon-carbide power module chargers faster and converts energy more efficiently. The end result is longer range for the electric vehicle. A Lucid Air vehicle was used to “cut the ribbon” at the grand opening by driving through a Wolfspeed banner.
Production is already underway at Wolfspeed, which currently has 265 employees. The plant is running 24/7 at about 10 percent of its full capacity. Wolfspeed expects to have 400 employees by the end of 2026 and 600 workers by the end of 2029. In addition, the company will also provide internship and research positions for SUNY Poly students, helping to create a skilled manufacturing workforce.
Gov. Hochul also promised to work with Wolfspeed to ensure it has the workforce it needs. “Tell us those skills,” she said, “and I’ll make sure that the world-class institutions of higher education that are right here in the Mohawk Valley are teaching those skills.”