Micron and Onondaga County Executive Provide Additional Information Regarding Micron’s Clay Mega-Fabs at Town Hall Meeting

November 7, 2022

By: Brian J. Butler, Robert H. Kirchner, and Jared A. Joyce

On Oct. 24, 2022 Micron executives joined Onondaga County Executive Ryan McMahon for the first of several town hall meetings intended to keep community members informed, and provide them with the opportunity to be heard, regarding Micron’s $100 billion investment in four semiconductor mega-fabs in the Syracuse suburb of Clay.

McMahon commented on the potential impact the project will have on employment in Central New York, as well as the timeline and process for the project moving forward. According to McMahon, Micron expects to create 9,000 permanent jobs over the next 20 years, with an average pay of $108,000, at new facilities located in the White Pine Commerce Park. In addition to the jobs created at Micron, it is expected that there will be 5,000 construction jobs, on average, each year of the project as the four mega-fabs are built and 40,000 - 50,000 supply chain jobs supporting Micron’s operations.

The process of creating a shovel-ready site for a manufacturing facility at the White Pine Commerce Park was underway well before Onondaga County came to terms with Micron. As it prepared the location, the County completed a generic environmental impact study that considered both environmental and traffic concerns. That preliminary study will now be refined and reviewed accounting for the factors unique to Micron’s proposed mega-fabs. The County plans to continue to revise these studies as supply chain companies are planned in the areas surrounding the Micron site. McMahon stated that it is expected that there will be hundreds of millions of dollars in investments in roads between projects at the state, city and town levels.

McMahon advised that “soft construction,” consisting of clearing and site work will begin in 2023 and continue in phases as Micron builds each of the four separate fabs that are planned over the next 20 years. Micron hopes to retain the natural condition of as much of the land as possible to create a “campus” for their employees. Construction of the first fully LEED-certified semiconductor mega-fab is expected to begin in 2024, with product manufacturing to begin in 2026.

McMahon also noted that the day after the Micron deal was announced, multiple major credit rating agencies reached out to the County and issued new, upgraded, bond recommendations. These agencies project that the tax growth rate in Onondaga County would rise to 9%.

April Arnzen, Senior Vice President and Chief People Officer for Micron, spoke on workforce development. According to Arnzen, Micron has been in contact with nearly every higher education institution in the state in an effort to ensure that Micron will be able to meet its hiring needs. Micron hopes to attract employees at all levels from various schools across the state and will be investing in those schools to ensure there is an adequate talent pool.

Micron plans to develop local programs that provide access to all members of the community who would like to join their work force and plans to tap into the area’s strong veteran pipeline.

Following these initial remarks, the floor was opened for comments and concerns from those in the audience.

In response to concerns raised by an attendee relating to wastewater, air quality and chemicals used in the manufacturing process, McMahon, Arnzen and Scott Gatzemeier, Corporate Vice President, Front End U.S. Expansion for Micron, stated that the Micron facility would be safe.

McMahon advised that the exact contents of the wastewater will depend on the nature and details of the permits that Micron receives at the federal, state and local levels. Wastewater from the Clay mega-fabs will be turned over to the County for treatment, with Micron paying a higher price if the County has to treat more complex and complicated wastewater. According to Gatzemeier, Micron will recycle up to 75% of the water on site before it is discharged as wastewater. McMahon said that treated wastewater will be discharged into the Oneida River, with special attention being paid to avoid any adverse impact on the Oneida River ecosystem. Lastly, Arnzen gave her personal assurance that there should be no concern regarding air quality, noting that she and her family live less than a mile from Micron’s Boise, Idaho fab facility.

In response to questions about the expected impact on local hospitals and schools, Micron plans to work with the County to bolster staffing at local health care facilities in order to support Micron’s growth. McMahon noted that schools are expected to experience population growth in both Onondaga County and surrounding counties. According to McMahon, most schools in the county have surplus space or buildings that could be utilized to accommodate any initial growth, but he acknowledged that in 5-10 years there could be discussions about expansion in the districts that experience the highest population growth because of the facilities operated by Micron and other supporting businesses.

Arnzen also offered insight for local business owners on how they might interact and develop a working relationship with Micron. According to Arnzen, Micron executives will continue to be available at future town hall meetings, and the company plans to hold “Local Supplier Days” inviting business owners to learn about working with Micron as part of their community engagement plan.

If you have any questions about the information presented in this memo, please contact Brian Butler, Bob Kirchner, any attorney in Bond’s semiconductor industry group or the Bond attorney with whom you are in regular contact.

*Special thanks to Associate Trainee Jared A. Joyce for assisting with researching and drafting this memo.