LANSING, N.Y.—Menlo Micro, a microelectronics manufacturer, will invest over $50 million into opening the company’s first domestic fabrication facility in Tompkins County, creating over 100 new jobs.
Senator Chuck Schumer and Governor Kathy Hochul announced Menlo Micro’s plans Tuesday in a written statement and described the investment in the new facility as another mile marker in New York State’s growth in becoming a hub of semiconductor manufacturing.
“We are once again declaring New York State as Chips Country,” Hochul wrote in the statement.
Schumer wrote in the same statement that Menlo Micro’s investment in Tompkins County is “supercharging our microelectronics supply chain in the Southern Tier. We are bringing manufacturing back to America, back to Upstate New York.”
Menlo Micro, which is based in Irving, California, will produce switches — a critical component of microchips — at a facility located in the Village of Lansing at 36 Thornwood Drive, which was previously occupied by Kionix Inc., a manufacturer of miniscule sensors that has since closed.
Until now, the company has been producing its switches offshore. CEO of the company, Russ Garcia, said the company’s overall capacity will “quadruple” in the first phase of the project.
“We expect over a three to five year period that we’ll do further investments and capacity increases,” Garcia said.
He said production at the facility is set to begin “mid-next year.”
Switches are devices that, in short, facilitate the flow of electricity from one source to another. Menlo Micro produces and sells a cutting edge switch model, called the “Ideal Switch.”
This new switch is smaller than all the others, which in turn, produces less heat when power flows through it. The more heat created, the more energy is wasted. Thus, less heat makes them more efficient, Garcia told The Ithaca Voice.
General Electric developed and created the new technology about 20 years ago at its Global Research Center located in Niskayuna, New York, according to Garcia.
“When GE started developing this technology, they determined if they made the elements, or the little tiny switches, much smaller, and put more of them close together, you can create a far more efficient switch,” Garcia said.
Garcia explained the “Ideal Switch” the company produces are made of “hundreds of tiny switches,” as small as a “strand of hair.” This allows engineers at the company to pack them in “as tightly as possible,” in a small package so the switch can function without creating heat, increasing efficiency.
This “Ideal Switch” will be manufactured at this new facility in Lansing, and is a vital component of the microelectronics industry and will support the growth of the semiconductor industry as a whole, according to a statement from Sen. Schumer’s office.
Village of Lansing Mayor Ronny Hardaway told The Ithaca Voice he hopes Menlo Micro’s local presence will keep growing into the future.
“The more manufacturing we can establish here in the U.S. is good for our country,” Hardaway said. “We’ve neglected that for a long time, and offshored a lot of manufacturing. I’m happy to see that it’s finally sinking in that you can’t do that forever.”
Schumer’s office highlighted a personal call he made to Garcia in 2022 as an effort to sell Garcia on the benefits that would come with expanding the company’s presence in the Empire State. Menlo Micro “heeded” the calls of Schumer and Hochul, according to the statement from Schumer’s office.
With the plans for Menlo Micro to expand into Tompkins County now public, Schumer touted the federal CHIPS and Science Act and Hochul New York state’s Green Chips Act as pivotal in driving investment from tech and semiconductor companies into Upstate New York.
Empire State Development, a state agency focused on economic development in New York, is providing Menlo Micro with $6.5 million in performance-based tax credits, according to the statement.
The credits, known as Excelsior Jobs Tax Credits, go into effect once the company meets its investment commitments, and its commitment to create 122 new jobs at the Lansing Facility.
The federal CHIPS and Science Act was signed into law in August 2022, and allocated $280 billion in federal spending over 10 years to support semiconductor manufacturing, research, and workforce development.
The spending bill includes $52 billion in subsidies for chip manufacturers and was sold as a path for America to revitalize its chip manufacturing industries, and reduce the U.S.’ reliance on China.
New York’s Green CHIPS Act made up to $10 billion available in economic incentives for microchip related manufacturing. It was characterized as the largest industry specific tax break program in state history when it was passed in 2022. The act amended the Excelsior Jobs Tax Credits program to target and attract multi-billion dollar investments from microchip manufacturing companies.
New York State is already home to big ticket projects incentivized by the federal CHIPS and Science Act and the Green CHIPS Act, including Micron Technologies commitment to build a $100 billion chip fabrication factory near Syracuse, N.Y. The factory is slated to be the largest semiconductor facility in the U.S.. Construction is planned to begin in 2024.
Ithaca Area Economic Development President Heather McDaniel told The Ithaca Voice that the possibility of local tax incentives are being discussed but “those are not even inked yet.”
She credited Micron’s investment near Syracuse and other investments from the semiconductor industry in Upstate New York as a major draw for Menlo Micro, and she thinks that the Ithaca-area and Upstate New York will continue to attract investment from high tech manufacturers.
“I think this is the beginning of more to come,” McDaniel said. “To the extent that we can provide shovel ready sites and existing buildings that can be made available for semiconductor and supply chain companies, they’re going to come.”
Garcia told The Ithaca Voice that investing in this new facility is a “game changer” for the company.
“It accelerates our growth and accelerates the impact we’re going to have on the overall country,” Garcia said. “We’re psyched.”