ESD Announces Upgrades Complete at Cornell High Energy Synchrotron Source Facility in Ithaca

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

January 17, 2019

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

Empire State Development (ESD) today announced that significant upgrades have been completed at the Cornell High Energy Synchrotron Source, or CHESS, a world-class scientific research facility in Ithaca, Tompkins County. Supported by a Southern Tier Soaring Upstate Revitalization Initiative grant, Cornell University invested in capital improvements to CHESS, including its x-ray beamlines and experimental stations. Now completed, CHESS will be among the five premier synchrotron source facilities for high-energy, high-flux x-ray studies in the world.

“Cornell University is one of our state’s great academic institutions, and it has been a leader in the growth of the Southern Tier’s economy,” said Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul, who made today’s announcement. “The capital upgrades as part of the Upstate Revitalization Initiative ensure the advancement of innovative technologies at the research facility, securing its position as one of the top of its kind in the world. This investment continues the growth of the high-tech industry and the economy of the entire region.”

Empire State Development President, CEO and Commissioner Howard Zemsky said, “This innovative project continues the Southern Tier's ongoing transformation as a global center for developing and commercializing cutting-edge technologies and creating sustainable, well-paying jobs."

Empire State Development offered the 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 also provided significant support during the upgrade, specifically $66 million in operating funds for the national user facility during the time of the project, which also included updates to the Cornell Electron Storage Ring, the accelerator that powers CHESS for x-ray operations.

As a result of this project, Cornell estimated that it would create 100 new high-paying, high-technology jobs in the region while retaining 150 jobs at the facility. Already, the project has resulted in the creation of 66 new jobs at the lab.

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.

CHESS Director Joel Brock said, “Scientists come to CHESS from all over the world to solve some of their hardest problems.  In addition to allowing us to stay ahead scientifically, this upgrade has helped local companies develop new advanced manufacturing capabilities and enter new markets, ultimately becoming more competitive at the international level.” 

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.

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.

Senator Thomas O'Mara said, "Strengthening this world-renowned scientific research facility keeps Cornell University at the cutting edge of science and continues to position our region at the forefront of innovation and high technology. It means critical job

retention and the creation of new, well-playing jobs, as well as enhancing the competitiveness and diversity of our local manufacturing sector."

Assembly Member Barbara Lifton said, “These critical upgrades to CHESS are a welcome development for my Assembly District and the Southern Tier, and they will enhance CHESS’s reputation as a world-class research facility, provide innovative technologies, and create long-term, well-paying jobs. I’m proud to support this project, and I thank Governor Cuomo for his continued attention to economic development in our region.”

Martha Robertson, Chairperson of the Tompkins County Legislature said, “The diversity of the work done at this world-class facility truly spans the limits of human ingenuity, including: developing better materials for rechargeable batteries, analyzing structural steel under different loads, x-ray imaging of archaeological artifacts without damaging them, and showing how toxins are distributed in commercial seafood or in the exhumed bones of 18th century sailors. We could not be more proud of this project.”

Ithaca Mayor Svante Myrick said, “We're thrilled at the State's investment in our City.  These upgrades will result in dozens of new jobs - and the Synchrotron will continue to be an important tool for scientific discovery.  The work done under the athletic fields help us advance the world of knowledge, and increase the productivity of industry, by enhancing our understanding of the physical world.”

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 $6.2 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.



Shari Voorhees-Vincent | [email protected] | (585)399-7055
ESD Press Office | [email protected] | (800) 260-7313