Some professionals in the fields of public policy, economic development and high-tech raised some questions — and even offered some criticism — of the Marcy Nanocenter project.

Edmund McMahon, founder and research director, the Empire Center, “At the end of the day, you’re still talking about a site that’s remote, to put it kindly. Right now, for all the marketing spin, this still feels more like a nano-fantasy.

Complicating matters, any site selector has to be concerned about the labor and environmental policies favored by the state’s new legislative majorities these days. The climate change bill alone has significant cost implications for anyone thinking of making a major investment in New York. Yes, corporate taxes have been lowered, even eliminated for manufacturers upstate, but the state of New York continues to have a notoriously regulatory hand,” he said in an email.

Michael Holman, vice president of research, Lux Research

Advanced manufacturing firms tend to seek out innovation clusters in their field, he said. Danfoss Silicon Power’s presence at Quad C, also on the SUNY Polytechnic Institute campus, is the kind of business companies would want to see, Holman said.

“For many companies, they would probably want to see a broader and more diverse group of companies before they were as excited about that sort of location,” he said.

Megan Randall, research association, the Urban Institute

The best economic development projects include public benefits, such as improvements to public transit or roads and bridges, Randall said.

“That way you’re not stuck in this conundrum where you’ve done a bunch of site prep and you don’t have a firm to come up and take you up on this deal and you don’t have a lot of spillover for folks in the community who are funding this with their tax dollars,” she said.

John Kaehny, executive director, Reinvent Albany

Advanced manufacturing firms generally experience generational change in their technology every four to five years, meaning they require new machinery, Kaehny said.

“What that means is that a ton of money has to come into that manufacturing facility every four or five years, which means it has to be very, very successful for the manufacturer or it has to be subsidized by the government on an ongoing basis,” he said.

Ronald Deutsch, executive director, Fiscal Policy Institute

What should happen now that so much money has been invested in the nanocenter?

“I guess I would say, number one, stop investing in that site until you get a firm commitment from a company and an iron-clad guarantee that they’re coming and you get commitments from them that they’ll create a certain number of jobs and if they don’t, they’ll have to pay the state back,” Deutsch said.

© 2019 Times Telegram

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