November 15, 2017
Albany, NY

Governor Cuomo Announces Upgrades for the Cornell High Energy Synchrotron Source in Ithaca

TOP Governor Cuomo Announces Upgrades for the...

CHESS Facility Improvements Will Create 100 New Jobs and Retain 150 Positions

Project Crucial to Securing Federal Funding Through 2024

Investment Complements "Southern Tier Soaring" - The Region's Comprehensive Strategy to Revitalize Communities and Grow the Economy


Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced significant upgrades for Cornell High Energy Synchrotron Source, or CHESS, a world-class scientific research facility in Ithaca, Tompkins County. Utilizing an Upstate Revitalization Initiative grant, Cornell University will invest in capital improvements to CHESS, including its x-ray beamlines and experimental stations. Once completed, CHESS will be among the five premier synchrotron source facilities for high-energy, high-flux x-ray studies in the world.

"With these critical upgrades for CHESS, New York continues to lead the way in strategic investments in science, technology and innovation," Governor Cuomo said. "By investing in this world-renowned research facility, we help ensure that the Southern Tier will continue to soar."

Built between 1978 and 1980, CHESS is a high-intensity x-ray source that provides world-class x-ray facilities to researchers from across the nation and around the world. It uses synchrotron light given off by charged particles - electrons and positrons - as they circulate in a ring at nearly the speed of light. The x-ray beams generated at CHESS help scientists and researchers understand materials from airplane wings to cell membranes, from pollutants in plants to matter under earth-core pressures.

"Cornell University is one of our state's great academic institutions, and it is key to the continued growth of the Southern Tier's innovation-based economy," said Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul, who made today's announcement. "The capital upgrades made possible through Governor Cuomo's Upstate Revitalization Initiative will leverage critical federal financial support for CHESS through 2024, ensuring its place among the world's preeminent research and development operations."

CHESS Director Joel Brock said, "CHESS, and its expert staff, generate a lot of new technologies and require very sophisticated components. By working with local companies, CHESS stays at the scientific forefront internationally, and serves as a catalyst for advanced manufacturing in the region."

Empire State Development has offered a performance-based, $15 million Southern Tier Soaring Upstate Revitalization Initiative grant to support the upgrades and improvements to the CHESS facility. The National Science Foundation will provide significant support to the more than $80 million in facility upgrades, which will include updates to the Cornell Electron Storage Ring, the accelerator that powers CHESS for x-ray operations. As a result of this project, Cornell will create at least 100 new high-paying, high-technology jobs while retaining 150 jobs at the facility.

CHESS utilizes funding from the National Science Foundation and the National Institutes of Health for operations. By leveraging the facility's capabilities and the URI grant, CHESS is positioned to win continued federal funding through 2024 and beyond.

Empire State Development President, CEO and Commissioner Howard Zemsky said, "By investing in CHESS, we are continuing to bolster the innovation economy, which is a winning strategy for the Southern Tier and New York State. This project aligns strongly with the Southern Tier's ongoing transformation into a global center for developing and commercializing cutting-edge technologies, and creating sustainable, well-paying jobs."

CHESS is a world leader in developing innovative tools and techniques to explore biological, electronic, and structural materials. CHESS scientists and engineers develop new instrumentation, technologies and processing techniques that are highly sought by other global laboratories, universities and research organizations. As new synchrotron technologies and processes are invented at CHESS, they will be transferred - along with development support - to New York companies who sell the products and services to global customers.

Senator Thomas O'Mara said, "New York State's investment in CHESS will further advance and strengthen Cornell University's position as a global leader in research, development and innovation within the high-tech economy. It's an investment in world-class education, technology and advanced manufacturing that will help create local jobs and other exciting, long-term economic opportunities."

Assemblymember Barbara Lifton said, "The announcement today of significant capital improvements to CHESS is a welcome and exciting development for my Assembly District and the Southern Tier. These investments will enhance CHESS's reputation as a world-class research facility, provide innovative technologies, and create long-term, well-paying jobs. I was proud to support the URI funding in the state budget and very glad to see this as a funded project, and I thank Governor Cuomo for his continued attention to economic development in our region."

Ithaca Mayor Svante Myrick said, "These major upgrades to CHESS will bring increased economic and technological growth in Ithaca and across the Southern Tier. I thank Governor Cuomo and Empire State Development for their unwavering support for our region and I look forward to witnessing the benefits of these improvements firsthand."

Chair of the Tompkins County Legislature Michael E. Lane said, "The innovative efforts at the CHESS facility at Cornell University are indeed transformative for this entire region and in fact the world. We are grateful to Governor Cuomo and to his team for continuing to support this incredibly important initiative. Through this investment, many high-quality jobs will be created, reinforcing the groundbreaking discoveries that have been and will be born at CHESS."

Accelerating Southern Tier Soaring 
Today's announcement complements "Southern Tier Soaring," the region's comprehensive blueprint to generate robust economic growth and community development. The state has already invested more than $4.6 billion in the region since 2012 to lay for groundwork for the plan - attracting a talented workforce, growing business and driving innovation. Today, unemployment is down to the lowest levels since before the Great Recession; personal and corporate income taxes are down; and businesses are choosing places like Binghamton, Johnson City and Corning as a destination in which to grow and invest. Now, the region is accelerating Southern Tier Soaring with a $500 million State investment through the Upstate Revitalization Initiative, announced by Governor Cuomo in December 2015. The State's $500 million investment will incentivize private business to invest well over $2.5 billion - and the region's plan, as submitted, projects up to 10,200 new jobs. More information is available here.


Contact the Governor's Press Office
Contact the Governor's Press Office