Stillwater hopes Fab 8.2 means business
Board approves zoning changes for $15B project
STILLWATER Stillwater town officials hope a potential expansion at GlobalFoundries will bring more tech-support businesses to their town.
“I’m anticipating that and I’m hopeful of it,” town Supervisor Edward Kinowski said Friday, the day after the Town Board approved a rezoning sought by GlobalFoundries to allow for expansion.
The zoning changes will allow GlobalFoundries to pursue plans for a second computer chip plant at its Fab 8 site, at a cost of $15 billion, potentially creating another 2,000 jobs.
The changes, approved last month by the Malta Town Board, would allow GlobalFoundries to build a plant — called Fab 8.2 — even larger than the first plant. The massive new plant would be on the line between the two towns, so both had to approve the zoning changes.
Both votes were unanimous.
“The winning point is the jobs for the entire area and a boon for the entire area,” Kinowski said.
Many analysts believe if the second plant is built, many more smaller support and supply companies that typically surround a computer chip plant will set up offices in proximity to the plant. Stillwater has already designated nearly 1,000 acres in its southwest corner as a business park and is making plans to extend public water there. The site, just south of the Luther Forest Technology Campus where GlobalFoundries is located, could host support businesses if the second plant is built, Kinowski said.
The decision on the second plant is now in GlobalFoundries’ hands.
“We did everything possible to say, ‘Please come and build.’ Now it’s up to them,” Kinowski said.
In return for the approvals, the company is agreeing to provide Stillwater with $3 million toward the expected purchase of Brown’s Beach, the historic but currently unused beach at the southern end of Saratoga Lake. The company will also be paying up to $7 million toward traffic improvements in Malta.
The town may be buying the beach for a total price of $4.1 million later this month, though GlobalFoundries won’t make its contribution unless and until it decides to build.
“It’s a risk Stillwater will have to take,” Kinowski said.
He noted GlobalFoundries now makes roughly $500,000 annually in payments in lieu of taxes to the town — money dedicated to other projects but potentially available to pay for the beach.
GlobalFoundries officials have said there is no final decision yet to build the plant, but obtaining the municipal approvals was a major hurdle.
The company first applied for the zoning changes in late January, citing its rapid business growth.
Among the changes approved by the two boards was one allowing the manufacturing “clean room” inside the new plant to total as much as 525,000 square feet. The clean room in the first plant measures 300,000 square feet.
The company’s Fab 8.1 plant opened last year and has 2,100 employees.
A technology development center now under construction will mean another 1,000 employees by late next year.
If Fab 8.2 is built, it isn’t expected to be in operation before 2020, but it would increase total employment at the GlobalFoundries complex to about 6,700.