Buffalo, Rochester and Syracuse together as a region have won a federal tech hub designation, according to U.S. Sen. Chuck Schumer's office.

The designation is part of the CHIPS & Science Act, which recognizes the role of semiconductor technology in national security. It focuses on domestic chip production and supply chain security in an effort to reduce reliance on foreign manufacturers.

"It's going to transform the I-90 corridor from Buffalo to Rochester to Syracuse into America's semiconductor highway," Schumer said.

The designation allows the three cities to join a group of 31 regions in the country that have the opportunity to compete for potentially billions in funding for manufacturing semiconductors.

“Buffalo, Rochester and Syracuse are officially on the road to becoming America’s semiconductor superhighway,” Schumer said. “I created this program with Upstate NY in mind, and now three of our own cities that helped build America, have not only won the exclusive federal Tech Hub designation for semiconductors, but also won a once-in-a-generation opportunity to write a new chapter for Upstate NY building our nation’s future. This 3 region Tech Hub will hit the gas on NY’s booming chips industry by attracting new companies, training our workforce for tens of thousands of good-paying jobs, and bringing manufacturing in this critical industry back from overseas to right here in Upstate NY.”

Schumer said he had Western New York in mind as he authored the legislation in the CHIPS and Science Act with a focus on bringing advanced microchip manufacturing back to America. However, leaders said it became clear it made more sense for the similar and already connected Buffalo, Rochester and Syracuse areas to work together rather than compete. 

"People used to talk about how our best days were behind us in all of these communities as the jobs moved but we've realized over time, we're not competitors with each other,” Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz said. “We have the attributes that make us stronger as a regional force than we are when we're alone.”

Schumer said the corridor's access to a well-trained and affordable workforce, affordable resources, shovel-ready sites as well as past disinvestment made it among the top applications. Central New York became a crucial part of the bid last year, when Micron Technologies announced it planned to invest $100 billion over the next two decades to build an enormous factory there which it says will eventually create 50,000 jobs.

"The semiconductors we build, memory chips, handle the information that makes modern computing and AI possible,” Micron CEO Sanjay Mehrotra said. “These fabs will be a critical part of Micron's manufacturing global network, creating leading edge chips for the most demanding applications worldwide.”

In Western New York, Schumer says Edwards Vacuum will invest $300 million plus to build a 600-job U.S. dry pump manufacturing facility to supply the semiconductor industry. In addition, according to Schumer, with his advocacy, Buffalo has already received $25 million for its growing tech industry through the American Rescue Plan’s Build Back Better Challenge.

In the Rochester region, Corning Inc., which manufactures glass critical to the microchip industry, has already invested $139 million in Monroe County to create more than 270 new, good-paying jobs in the Finger Lakes region, Schumer's office said.

Schumer says the tri-city region beat out hundreds of other applications in the nationwide competition for this tech hub designation.

Of the 31 designees, five to 10 will be chosen in early spring as the top applicants that will receive roughly $75 million a piece to start with the potential for much more down the road. Schumer said his office is helping the regions put together the next bid which focuses more specifically on how they plan to use the money.

"We are one of the strongest applications there is. I'm very confident we're going to get money," he said.

He said even in the unlikely scenario the upstate bid does not win, the designation itself will drive both semiconductor manufacturers and supply chain operations to the area right away.