Press Release

Schumer, Gillibrand Call for Designation for Rochester, Finger Lakes to Support New Manufacturing

Apr 14, 2014

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senators Charles E. Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand today announced a new effort to launch new manufacturing initiatives to the city of Rochester that can help businesses grow and support job creation.

The Senators released 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. If approved, Rochester and the Finger Lakes region would be designated as a manufacturing community – spurring innovation, job creation and revitalization of the local manufacturing industry.

“Manufacturing has powered the Rochester and Finger Lakes economy for decades, and now is making even greater strides in high-tech, optics, and other innovative manufacturing sectors. This designation would cement Rochester’s reputation as a hub of manufacturing growth, help redevelop assets like Eastman Business Park, and make it easier to bring both public and private investment to the Flower City,” said Senator Schumer. “That’s a recipe for more businesses, more economic growth, and more jobs in Rochester, so I’m urging the Commerce Department to swiftly review and approve Rochester’s application.”

“Rochester manufacturing powered America for decades and drove our local economy,” Senator Gillibrand said. “It is time to see ‘Made in America’ again. When we invest in public and private partnerships fostered through this designation, we can help educate and train workers with the skills they need for advanced manufacturing, help more businesses grow and strengthen our economy, and create new good-paying jobs that can support a family.”

“With this application, Rochester is taking an important step forward as a community with a tradition built on manufacturing.  Some say that the days of manufacturing are past us, but that is simply not thinking with a 21st century mindset,” said City of Rochester Mayor Lovely Warren. “The new manufacturing economy is being built on innovation and applied high technology.  Rochester’s manufacturers  — from Eastman to Carlson to today’s start-up pioneers — have always been innovators; have always been one step ahead of the existing technology of the day. Being named a Global Manufacturing Hub will help us take the best of who we are, and use those strengths to propel our region into tomorrow.”

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 letter to Department of Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker is below:

April 11, 2014

The Honorable Penny Pritzker


United States Department of Commerce

14th and Constitution Avenue, NW

Washington, DC 20230

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.