DAVID ORENSTEIN Business writer
Section: BUSINESS,  Page: E1

Date: Thursday, January 15, 1998

Albany, Rensselaer, Schenectady and Saratoga counties have submitted a total of eight sites as potential homes for a semiconductor plant under the state's Chip Fab '98 program, Empire State Development Corp. spokeswoman Caroline Quartararo said. The program announced late last year by Gov. George Pataki is designed to round up the best sites in the state for sprawling, multibillion-dollar semiconductor fabrication plants. Each plant could employ hundreds to thousands of workers.

The state will select and market the 10 best sites to the semiconductor industry. To ensure that construction could begin at the site immediately after a chip company selects it, the sites would have all the needed permits in advance.

Albany County Partnership has submitted two sites in Bethlehem and one site in Guilderland to the state, said County Executive Michael Breslin. The partnership is a joint organization of the county and the Albany-Colonie Regional Chamber of Commerce.

``If we were to get a chip fabrication facility, it would be the single largest manufacturer in Albany County at this time,'' Breslin said. ``The stakes are huge.''

Quartararo said Rensselaer County has submitted one site, Schenectady County has submitted two and Saratoga County has also submitted two.

Schenectady County manager Bob McEvoy said one of the county's sites is a 245-acre parcel at Hillside Industrial Park in Niskayuna. The town submitted the plan. McEvoy said he was unfamiliar with the other site.

Municipalities have until the end of this week to submit sites.

Albany Mayor Jerry Jennings publicly proposed the uptown State Office Campus for a fab plant site in his Jan. 5 State of the City speech. The Jennings proposal appears to be unconnected to the county proposals.

So far the state has received 54 submissions from across the state, Quartararo said. The state will try to select the top 10 by the end of the first quarter of the year.

Breslin said he could not be specific about the location of the Albany County sites or the ownership of the land. He said that all three sites meet the criteria set by the state.

Ideal sites would be at least 200 acres and offer good access to major roads and utilities.

The best sites would be undeveloped.

Rensselaer County officials have recently mentioned that Rensselaer Technology Park in North Greenbush would be a good site for a chip plant.

The park was a contender for a site in the early '90s.

The semiconductor industry sometimes locates more than one plant in an region once a company has sited the first one, Breslin said.

The state and the Capital Region have entered the national competition for semiconductor jobs before, but interest has reached a new level in the past 18 months as Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and the University at Albany have pursued major research centers.