Manufacturing Savvy

Smart Economic Planning Pays Off

A huge manufacturer closes and the town practically disappears according to past experiences. However, that isn't always the case.

When Eastman Kodak filed for bankruptcy the city of Rochester, while hurting, won't disappear.

In a New York Times article, "No Rust in Rochester" by Duncan Moore, vice provost for entrepreneurship of the Univeristy of Rochester, explains that good economic planning ensures growth for the city.

Moore points out that over the past 30 years as the ranks of Kodak decreased from 61,000 to 7,000, the region gained 90,000 jobs. Part of the reason is that the laid-off workers created start-up companies.

Strong education facilities (supported by Kodak) turned into a hotbed of research. The University of Rochester and its medical center is now the largest employer. And that didn't happen by accident. Federal funds of $1.9 billion helped it along.

And it was good economic planning that created the groundwork for this prosperity. Twenty years ago the city created a network of private and nonprofit partnerships to encourage economic diversity. Part of this was training potential entrepreneurs. Since 1996, 51 startups were created with 38 still in business. Again government resources kicked in providing $70 million in state funds in 2011.

One partnership, High Tech Rochester, uses business incubators such as the Lennox Tech Enterprise Center and the Rochester BioVenture Center. They also partner with their Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP). Funding for this non-profit comes from Empire State Development's Division of Science, Technology and Innovation, the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) and the Manufacturing Extension Partnership.

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