Press Release

Schumer, Gillibrand Announce Rochester, Finger Lakes Region Have Won Key Federal Designation That Will Deliver Economic Development Grants, Support New Manufacturing At Eastman Biz Park, & Provide Huge Boost to Local Economy

May 28, 2014

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senators Charles E. Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand today announced that Rochester has won a key national “manufacturing community” designation that can help businesses grow and support job creation. Earlier this year, the Senators lobbied the EDA and sent a letter to U.S. Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker calling for the swift approval of the city of Rochester’s application for the Investing in Manufacturing Communities Partnership (IMCP) Program, which was today approved. The very sought-after designation means that the Rochester and Finger Lakes region will receive preferential status for local economic development grants in the field of manufacturing – spurring innovation, job creation and revitalization of the local manufacturing industry. 

“This designation is an absolute game changer that will boost Rochester’s advanced manufacturers to new heights by giving local businesses a leg up in competing for up to $1.3 billion in new resources; that is why this grant was the top priority of Mayor Lovely Warren, and why we fought so hard to deliver it. It means the job-creating investments of 10 federal agencies will be focused like a laser on Rochester, giving Rochester-Finger Lakes institutions preference for hundreds of millions in upcoming grants to advance Eastman Business Park, create new shovel-ready manufacturing sites, train workers to fill available manufacturing jobs, and help local manufacturers expand,” said Schumer.

Schumer continued, “I told Commerce Secretary Pritzker that Rochester has tremendous manufacturing strengths, particularly in optics and photonics, and this is exactly the type of community that the federal government should be investing in to lead our nation in next-generation manufacturing.  I’m glad that message was received and that Rochester Finger Lakes-area manufacturers, colleges and universities, municipalities, and workforce development organizations are in an exclusive federal category as one of only 12 sites designated nationwide as a federal ‘Manufacturing Community.’”

“This is an important designation for Rochester and the Finger Lakes Region,” said Senator Gillibrand, who worked closely with Mayor Warren in developing and advocating for this proposal. “We must see Made in America again, starting right here in upstate New York. This designation will give our communities the tools and resources we need to expand manufacturing. The Rochester-Finger Lakes Region is well aligned to compete for funding that would spark more growth in manufacturing sectors, start new businesses, and create more good-paying jobs right here at home.”

“I am thrilled that Rochester’s value as a global manufacturing hub with unlimited potential is being recognized by the Department of Commerce and the Obama Administration,” said Rochester Mayor Lovely Warren. “I want to thank Senator Schumer, Senator Gillibrand, Congresswoman Slaughter and all our partners in Rochester and Washington who worked side by side with me and my administration to earn this important distinction.  This distinction puts Rochester on the map as one of the nation’s most vibrant, skilled and innovative cities to do business.”

Manufacturing has always been an important component of the Finger Lakes Region, with a greater percentage of its population involved in manufacturing than New York State and the U.S. as a whole.  Based on U.S. Census data, between 2010-2012 the region’s nine counties employed up to 20 percent of manufacturing workers, compared to 6 percent in New York State and 10 percent in the country overall.  The region has long been a leader of manufacturing, exports and job creation, with the manufacturing industry once impacting 50 percent of the area’s economy.  Although they were affected by downsizing and offshoring of major manufacturers like Kodak, this new IMCP designation will help ignite the resurgence of that once great industry.

Regions designated as a federal Manufacturing Community will receive preferred consideration when applying for an estimated $1.3 billion in future federal economic development grant funding.  Not only will an IMCP designation for the Rochester Finger Lakes region open up access to this $1.3 billion federal economic development funding, but it will also help generate additional opportunities for private foreign and domestic investment that will further position the region as a magnet for new manufacturing companies, strengthening the area’s economy and creating much-needed jobs.   Through this partnership, the Finger Lakes Region will have increased access to federal funding along with support to help advance manufacturing clusters. With implementation, Rochester plans to revive the manufacturing industry in the State to enhance the Region’s industrial ecosystem.

Full text of Senator Schumer and Senator Gillibrand’s initial letter to Department of Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker is below:

Dear Secretary Pritzker:

We are pleased to write in support of the application submitted by the City of Rochester for the Rochester-Finger Lakes region to be designated a Manufacturing Community through the Economic Development Administration’s Investing in Manufacturing Communities Partnership (IMCP) Program.

For over 100 years, four large manufactures, Eastman Kodak, Xerox, Bausch and Lomb, and General Motors, employed nearly one-fifth of the local workforce and had an impact on half of the region’s economy. Up until the mid-1990s, the region led the State of New York in manufacturing, exports, job creation and other economic measures.  Manufacturing job losses that occurred with the downsizing and offshoring of these large employers hit the region particularly hard, and from 2000 to 2010, over 43,000 manufacturing jobs were lost. 

Despite these challenges, manufacturing, particularly in optics, photonics, and imaging, as well as other advanced manufacturing sectors, remains critical to the Finger Lakes economy.  In particular, the Finger Lakes region is home to the most robust, sophisticated and highly integrated optics, photonics and imaging supply chain in the nation.  The area’s manufacturing sector is resurging in the form of smaller industries, and especially advanced manufacturing and the fields of precision manufacturing, optics, and photonics.  According to the Rochester Regional Photonics Cluster, a local industry trade association, the region houses more than 75 optics, photonics and imaging companies employing 17,000 people resulting in over $3 billion in annual sales.  By coordinating efforts and building on areas of strength, including an educated workforce, world-class educational and research institutions, the region’s manufacturing ecosystem, and key infrastructure like Eastman Business Park, we can accelerate the resurgence of manufacturing in the region and create new manufacturing jobs throughout the greater Finger Lakes area.

Securing a federal designation as a Manufacturing Community through the Investing in Manufacturing Communities Partnership Program will give the Finger Lakes Region increased access to federal funding and support that is critical to strengthening the existing advanced manufacturing clusters of precision manufacturing, optics and photonics in the greater Rochester region.  As part of this proposal, the City of Rochester is leading a consortium of academic institutions and training centers, local governments, and community, economic development and workforce organizations to implement a strategic plan for redeploying the legacy physical and human assets in the 9-county Finger Lakes Region.

The strategic plan will include leveraging the extensive physical assets in the region, including the facilities and equipment at Eastman Business Park and other idle or underutilized manufacturing sites.  The plan will also utilize the region’s strong network of private and state universities, colleges and community colleges to assist in the technological and business planning and workforce training activities required to successfully revitalize the region’s manufacturing ecosystem.  A federal designation as a Manufacturing Community will not only open up preference consideration for up to $1.3 billion in federal economic development funding for the Finger Lakes region, but will also help generate additional opportunities for private foreign and domestic investment that will further position the region as a magnet for new manufacturing companies, strengthening the area’s economy and creating much-needed jobs.