Authors: Dan Toman
(MALTA, N.Y.) -- When Global Foundries was seeking a home for its new $7 billion factory, it skipped over Germany and Singapore, where it already has facilities, and settled on the small town of Malta in upstate New York.
"We got a call from folks in New York who had been investing in infrastructure and workforce and everything," said Travis Bullard, a spokesman for the company, which is 80 percent owned by Abu Dhabi. "We came up and looked at a few sites around New York and ultimately decided to build here."
Now the semiconductor-making site employs about 1,300 people, with plans to reach 1,600 by the end of the year.
"These machines, our technicians, are doing extremely advanced manufacturing work," he said about the process of making silicon wafers. "They're manipulating individual atoms with the use of light and chemistry."
Global Foundries also has partnered with 17 community colleges and a high school to provide those looking for work or a new career path with the proper skills.
"This is really the first production-scale facility of this kind, in this area," Bullard said. "So the workforce doesn't exist here yet. There is a high-skilled workforce -- and we're tapping into that -- but there is still training and education that has to be done to get people the right skills."
Global Foundries is not the only foreign company bringing manufacturing to the U.S.
Germany's Siemens opened a plant making steam and gas turbines in Charlotte, N.C., late last year. The facility employs 825 workers and the products ship to Norfolk, Va., and then to Mexico and Saudi Arabia.
Scandinavia's Electrolux, which makes kitchen appliances, expanded its North America headquarters last year in Charlotte as well. The move led to 500 new jobs and there is a plan to hire 200 more. And the U.K.'s Rolls Royce has a facility -- its first in the U.S. -- in New Crosspointe, Va. Although 150 jobs have been filled, the project calls for 600.
At Hudson Valley Community College's TEC-SMART facility, high school graduates in a two-year program get real-world experience in a chip-making laboratory setting. Several of them had already been hired by Global Foundries.
"This program is really unique in this part of the country," said professor Abe Michelen. "This has been happening only the last three years here in upstate New York. The trigger for this was Global Foundries."
Raymond Stone told ABC News that he had been out of work for about a year after his job was moved to New Hampshire. Stone, who has been at Global Foundries since July, said he was enjoying the work.
Joshua Alexander, a Global Foundries worker, told ABC News that he had noticed an influx of jobs. He started at Global Foundries in July 2011 after being unemployed for four months.
"It's unreal, the amount of cars you see coming to work in the morning, in the parking lot every day," he said. "At certain points when they were first getting used to the flow of all the traffic coming in, we had major traffic jams just because there were so many people trying to get to work."
Bullard said Global Foundries was not about just erecting walls and manufacturing.
"We're doing a lot of work with the community. ... It's a new industry for this region," he said. "It's a big effort. It's a big community effort but it's exciting."
Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio