Millions in additional funding is on its way to Rome Labs. How the money will be spent

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An appropriations bill to keep the federal government running will include millions of additional funding for the U.S. Air Force Research Laboratory in Rome.

The $1.5 billion package passed the House on Wednesday and includes $293 million for Rome Labs, including The Innovare Advancement Center and Sky Dome, an indoor drone testing facility.

The omnibus spending package marks a $15 million increase in spending at the Rome facilities, which specialize in cutting-edge technology for national security.

The Innovare Advancement Center in Rome is designed to give scientists and companies space to use quantum information processing to analyze and improve computer technology. The center will receive additional funding in the latest spending package to pass the House.
The Innovare Advancement Center in Rome is designed to give scientists and companies space to use quantum information processing to analyze and improve computer technology. The center will receive additional funding in the latest spending package to pass the House.

The quantum network testbed at the Air Force Research Laboratory in Rome will see $10 million in funding in the latest appropriations package. Quantum computing is regarded as the next step in computing technology, providing the possibility of advancement in artificial intelligence and machine learning.

Another $200,000 will be set aside for testing unmanned aerial systems at SkyDome and $25 million to Rome’s budget for technology intended to keep the United States on par with China in chips for quantum super computers.

The defense and nondefense spending in the bill passed the House in two separate votes. Defense provisions were approved by a 270-157 vote, with U.S. Rep. Claudia Tenney, R-New Hartford, in favor. The nondefense portion passed by a slimmer 249-180 vote, with U.S. Reps. Elise Stefanik, R-Schuylerville, and Tenney voting against. U.S. Rep. Antonio Delgado, D-Rhinebeck, voted for both aspects of the spending package.

What New York’s congressional delegation is saying

While the package has yet to pass the upper house, Democratic Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer and Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand took credit for the Rome Labs funding included in the omnibus bill in a joint statement.

“The Rome Lab and their powerhouse workforce here in the Mohawk Valley are on the frontlines defending and fortifying our nation’s cyber defense,” Schumer said.

Gillibrand visited the Innovare Advancement Center in 2021 and said it’s positioned to solidify the state’s legacy as a leader in technological innovation and cybersecurity.

“Today, more than ever, we need the infrastructure to protect our nation from serious cybersecurity threats,” she said. “This federal investment will advance Rome Lab’s incredible work in quantum research, help bring great jobs to the Mohawk Valley, and secure New York State’s position as a leader in national security.”

Politics: U.S. Rep. Elise Stefanik visits Rome following congressional redistricting

Technology: Innovare dedicates new quantum computing lab in Rome

In a statement, Tenney said she supported the national defense portions of the bill, including the provisions for Rome Lab. Her issues with the nondefense spending package included the fact it did not defund President Biden’s vaccine mandates or jumpstart American energy production.

Tenney pointed out the bill includes funds for a water system improvement project in Frankfort and broadband expansion in Sherburne.

“I am extremely disappointed these important priorities were tied to a partisan spending package that overall is irresponsible and reckless,” she said.

The nondefense portion of the spending bill passed with support from 29 House Republicans, including U.S. Rep. John Katko, R-Camillus.

Local impact

While millions in additional spending will come to Rome Labs, no figures for increased jobs were included in statements from congressional representatives.

Even without additional hiring, the economic impact of the lab has been significant on the region. An Air Force analysis of fiscal year 2020 found Rome Lab had a total economic impact of $501 million in Oneida, Herkimer, Madison, Onondaga and Oswego counties.

The work force between civilian and civilian employees and contractors totaled more than 1,200 people, with combined salaries exceeding $152 million. The analysis estimated an additional 1,415 indirect jobs were created by the labs in the five-county area with $70 million in value.

Steve Howe is the city reporter for the Observer-Dispatch. Email him at showe@gannett.com.

This article originally appeared on Observer-Dispatch: Rome NY US Air Force Research Laboratory earmarked for more funding