A Wall Street Journal columnist claims Rochester helped kill Kodak. Actually, we were responsible for Kodak’s fall.
In a piece called, “Kodak Didn’t Kill Rochester. It Was the Other Way Around,” Rich Karlgaard writes about how the Flower City stifled Kodak. (Never mind Kodak was born here and did just fine for a century.)
After repeating the well-known history and troubles of the company and throwing in weird “Ozzie and Harriet” references, Karlgaard finally cuts to the chase:
Kodak’s other structural problem is geography. When you study the history of great American companies that stumbled and failed, or only partially recovered, you see how difficult it is to overcome the mindset of your immediate surroundings. Businesses located in places where success is the norm, and innovation is built into the ecology, have a better chance of fixing themselves.
Karlgaard compares Kodak to Intel, which he said survived because it was located in the Silicon Valley. He also compares Kodak to IBM and talked about how that company shed a couple hundred thousand jobs.
What Mr. Gerstner did was difficult. It would have been infinitely harder to do in Rochester, because the impact on a small city and the multiplier effect of lost jobs, axed all at once, would have been a civic disaster. Of course, Kodak’s slow bleed has turned out to be a civic disaster anyway.
The world might be flat. But innovation and adaptation remain local.
Is this guy for real? Does he understand that Kodak had peak employment in Rochester of 60,000 and DID shed an enormous amount of jobs? There are only about 7,000 left locally.
Guess what, Mr. Karlgaard? We survived. And we will.