Written by: Steve Melito, Industry Blog Writer for FuzeHub
Rochester, New York has re-invented itself before. During the American Revolution, soldiers settled the fertile farmland near the Genesee River and grew grain. During the Industrial Revolution, residents milled flour. Later, during the Gilded Age, George Eastman founded Kodak and sold cameras under the slogan: “You press the button – we do the rest.” Ultimately, Xerox and Bausch + Lomb also called Rochester home.
Today, what was once the “imaging capital of the world” faces a cloudy future, at least according to David Green of National Public Radio (NPR). As Part of NPR’s American Made: The New Manufacturing Landscape series, Greene examines the challenges facing Rochester’s manufacturing workforce. For today’s blue-collar workers, finding a good-paying job isn’t a pusbutton proposition.
Although local manufacturers such as Excelis Geospacial Systems have hired former Kodak employees, the aerospace and defense firm needs fewer workers than Kodak did during its glory days. For George Eastman, producing camera lenses was a complex but labor-intensive process. For Excelis, manufacturing telescope lenses means state-of-the-art equipment and a relative handful of highly-skilled workers.
Nabil Nasr, the associate provost and director of the Golisano Institute for Sustainability at the Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT), recognizes these changes. “I think there are a lot of people left out of the manufacturing sector”, he told NPR’s David Green. Without the requisite technical education and hands-on experience, Rochester’s blue-collar workers face “barriers” to the manufacturing jobs of the future.
As the Flour City reinvents itself once again, how will the kind of public and private sector partnerships that Nasr recommends help Rochester to succeed? Does the Buffalo Billion Initiative provide the blueprint?
Read original story: Rochester Focuses On A New Picture Of American Manufacturing : NPR
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