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City of Rochester Communications Bureau

A fellow reporter asked Lieutenant Governor Bob Duffy on Thursday about the billion dollars going to Buffalo for economic development. Rochesterians have been quite miffed. Here is his response:

We have some great football games this weekend and at the end of the first quarter you don’t declare a winner. We have, I believe the best governor in the country. We have one fourth of his term done. By my count about $200 million has been earmarked or on its way to Rochester in the last month or so.

Buffalo is the second largest city. Rochester is the third. The governor made a decision that put a stake in the ground. But what has happened in Buffalo, that investment, I would say if it’s as successful as I believe it will be, you’ll see the same things happen in Rochester and Syracuse.

And what I’ve told the governor is there’s this incredible Upstate competition with cities, Buffalo, Rochester, Syracuse. If we got the $1 billion, Buffalo would be up in arms. So I think you have that competitive issue.

Rochester is not forgotten. If the governor was here speaking, he would tell you how much is passed along and communicated about what goes on here and the needs. But in all honesty, I don’t argue with the decisions that were made. Our Regional Council here did an extraordinary job…They did not win. They did not win the top four, but the scoring was so close, anyone could have won. But there’s four more years…of that money coming.

Duffy was definitely defensive, but not overly so. Apparently, being the third-largest city behind Buffalo matters.

I was a little curious that the governor’s budget called the Buffalo initiative an attempt to form
“innovation clusters.” We have those in Rochester already and they sorely need funding. But it’s fair to say there’s still a lot of time in the Cuomo administration.

4 Responses to “Rochester is not forgotten.”

  1. January 20, 2012 at 4:10 pm Brian Kane responds:

    Rochester is the biggest creator of new jobs in upstate. We get tons of federal and state dollars. Somehow, the debate needs to shift away from Rochester as victim or loser. In part, this means quickly putting Kodak behind us. It’s no longer a front page story, the region’s success is!

  2. January 20, 2012 at 4:13 pm Wren Keber responds:

    OK, fair point about Buffalo being the second-largest city, but that’s measured by square miles and population only. The Rochester economy is 2nd in the state behind NYC, and that’s what should matter. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rochester,_New_York#cite_note-4) I am doubtful that Buffalo’s billion dollars will be effective. It’s money that would be better spent within an economy that already has more spending power.

  3. January 20, 2012 at 4:29 pm Anthony Morelle responds:

    I am not sure how many people in NY understand how economic development works. With NYS completely gutted of its prized manufacturing infrastructure, it left a lot of questions unanswered; most of which was “what are we going to do?” NY was definitely not prepared for the future. It tried unsuccessfully to kick-start with the Economic Zones, but that became a huge racquet as companies competed to keep their tax status and phony job creation.

    Now you fast-forward to what is taking place in Albany. Many people have no clue until the middle of last year (as the press reported on it), that a major innovation center has been built over the last decade around SUNY Albany’s tech programs. Alongside the school, there is a huge semi-conductor corridor that deals with the making, supplying, and distributing microchip technology throughout the country. I am told through a friend who works in that industrial complex that just about every major semi-conductor company, subsidiary, or complementary business has some kind of presence there; from all over the world! Along with those companies and jobs, sprouted up many other businesses to support those companies like shops, restaurants, and other stores. It basically looks like Henrietta along Jefferson Rd, but on a grander scale!

    How is this made possible? Schools and businesses working together to tap the potential workforce being churned out of the Albany area: SUNY Albany and Rensellaer Poly-Technic or RPI. This helps keep the students local and creates jobs for the local economy.

    Now, initially I was skeptical when I heard about this innovation center. I thought it was a ploy by Albany to keep innovation close and keep the politics only a stone’s throw and arm’s reach from the Capitol. What I am seeing is NY’s best attempt to retool itself from a major manufacturing entity to a semi-to-skilled labor force. My buddy told me that the Albany innovation center will someday rival Silicon Valley. He has the distinct ability to work on the microchips, as well as foster development by showing international clientele how amazing Albany’s technical facilities are!

    So how does that bode for Buffalo? Well we cannot make the same innovation center in Buffalo. It makes sense that Buffalo gets the money because they have a higher population and a broader tax base. They also have some really good schools such as SUNY Buffalo, Medaille, Niagara University, and the University of Buffalo (to name a few). The best part is that they are all pretty much centrally located within the City of Buffalo, so another center could be built. There is also a ton of empty real estate that can be developed. What will we build there? Only time will tell. I am not too familiar with its core industries to make a judgment call.

    How does this affect Rochester? Lt. Gov. Duffy understands the significance of the University of Rochester and RIT; two core building blocks for innovation in their own rights. Could Rochester become a center for medical technologies? I see the bigger picture and know that it is definitely a possibility. We have 3 great teaching colleges from which to pluck the future of Training and Human Resources departments.

    The one thing we have to remember is that economic development takes time. Albany took at least a decade. Buffalo and Rochester are going to take at least that long. Things cannot change overnight and people have to understand that. Rochester’s economic prowess will shine once again, but it needs to woo the companies and create the right conditions to prosper.

  4. Pingback: Some Specifics, Please » The Rochesterian

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