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The Manufacturing Resurgence in Rochester


“Rochester, the future is here,” said New York State Governor Andrew M. Cuomo. “You’ve gone from making Brownie cameras to the lenses that are now mapping the far side of Pluto,” added Vice President Joe Biden. For a city whose fortunes have risen and fallen with Kodak and Xerox, landing the new Integrated Photonics Manufacturing Innovation Hub is like winning an Olympic Gold Medal. Rochester has seen hard times, but the $610-million award that was announced last July is the grand prize after many smaller victories.
After years of downsizing by Kodak, Xerox, and other large manufacturers, Rochester has experienced a manufacturing resurgence. Last year, for example, the Greater Rochester / Finger Lakes region became a manufacturing partnership community during Round 1 of the Investing in Manufacturing Communities Partnership (IMCP) initiative. The region is also home to more than 17,000 jobs in optics and photonics, the science of generating and harnessing light and other forms of radiant energy.
Rochester’s quest to become the home of the Integrated Photonics Manufacturing Hub was backed by $250 million from New York State. This win for western New York is also the result of strong public-private partnerships. Specifically, the U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) awarded the Manufacturing Innovation Institute to the Research Foundation for the State University of New York (RF SUNY), which leads a consortium of 124 companies, non-profits, and universities.
Under the terms of the agreement between DOD and the Integrated Photonics Institute, federal funding will account for $110 million over five years. After the start-up and initial operational phases are complete, the Institute is expected to become fiscally self-sustaining. The federal government hopes to continue to be a customer, but a major goal of the Institute is to support the creation, growth, and expansion of small and medium-size enterprises (SMEs).
What can your region learn from Rochester’s example? What initiatives are underway now that could help your company and develop your regional economy in years to come?
Image Credit: © Andy/Dollar Photo Club


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