Cree establishes SUNY Poly scholarships, professorships as part of community effort

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Cree Inc., the company building a 600-worker semiconductor factory in Marcy, is spending $3.5 million to establish a scholarship program and to endow two faculty positions at SUNY Polytechnic Institute to help expand science, technology, engineering and mathematics opportunities for students at the colleges, the company announced.

Cree plans a $2 million scholarship program over 10 years to help students from historically underserved or marginalized communities and those with significant financial need.

It will provide $1.5 million over five years beginning in August to endow two faculty chairs in honor of two company founders, John Edmond and John Palmour. Edmond and Palmour were part of the team that founded Cree in 1987 on silicon carbide research at North Carolina State University.

Cree has begun providing internships for students, and eight SUNY Poly students are interning with the company now. Cree also donated $25,000 to the SUNY Poly Foundation in November.

The billion-dollar silicon carbide fabrication facility is being built with significant state and local incentives. New York State is providing $500 million in performance-based, capital grants from Empire State Development to reimburse a portion of Cree’s costs of fitting out the new facility and acquiring and installing machinery and equipment, as well as $1 million in Excelsior Jobs tax credits. Oneida County is rebuilding the main access road as well, and all local taxing jurisdictions have entered a package in which Cree makes payments in lieu of property taxes over the life of its long-term lease of the underlying land.

“One of the core beliefs we hold at Cree is that every individual should have the opportunity to excel, and equitable access to education is at the foundation of that belief,” Cree CEO Gregg Lowe said in a company statement.

“Establishing this education program is another important step in our broader effort to have a substantial positive impact in the local communities where we live and work,” the company CEO added.

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