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Skyline - featured 220X165A report from the Brookings Institution on advanced industry has scary and encouraging news for Rochester.

Brookings defines advanced industry as 50 industries within manufacturing, energy and services. These include areospace products and parts, motor vehicles, data processing and architecture and engineering. Brookings finds these sectors extremely important because workers earn much more money and contribute far more to gross domestic product than other workers.

Here’s the scary part. In 1980, Rochester had 113,250 advanced industry jobs, ranking Rochester 18th in the United States. In 2013, we had 47,730, ranking Rochester 45th in the country. That’s an astounding decline, the third worst for any city in the entire country. Much of this, of course, can be blamed on the fall of Eastman Kodak.

But here’s the silver lining. Rochester still has more advanced industry jobs than any Upstate city. These jobs make up a larger share of all jobs than any Upstate city. What’s more, Rochester ranks in the top 15 cities in terms of the percentage of STEM graduates.

This data shows we’ve not only weathered the storm (which may not be over), we’ve managed to keep a major asset intact: A skilled workforce with access to high tech jobs.

Let’s build on that.




Links of the Day:


– Heroin deaths jumped last year in the Rochester area. Most victims were white men.

– Buffalo does a bad job solving homicides, compared to Rochester.

– I have no problem showing the mug shot of an accused murderer, but I think there are great questions raised here about people accused of lesser crimes.

– Fewer college grads are signing up for Teach for America.

– “Nobody is big enough to slow jam the news and broadcast the news at the same time.”

Even the homeless take digital payments in Sweden.

I would love not to work Fridays…

10 Responses to Good News, Bad News

  1. February 7, 2015 at 1:45 pm rochester_veteran responds:

    Rochester seems to weather recessions and financial downturns better than most places in NYS. The demise of Kodak hit hard, but we were able to recover, thanks much to the expansion of UR, lot’s of ex-yellow boxers there now. Some people left the state as well, for greener and warmer pastures. Blue collar jobs in manufacturing have declined. It’s a mixed bag.

  2. February 7, 2015 at 4:32 pm Downtown Professional responds:

    Actually, if you ignore the “Kodak Effect”, Rochester has done unbelievably well compared to almost anywhere. It is an unfortunate illustration of how an area must not ever allow itself to be dependent upon a single large employer or a single industry. What we have to do now is to sell the area. GRE and High Tech Rochester do some wonderful things; we need some other similar organizations to help out.

  3. February 7, 2015 at 8:31 pm Orielly responds:

    “AN illustration of how an area must not ever allow itself to be dependent upon a single large employer or a single industry”
    Well I guess we should have stopped Kodak’s growth and maybe kicked some of their business units out of ROCH before they got too big, as we don’t want to ever be too dependent on one large employer. Ever hear of the “FREE MARKET”? Who should we make King or Queen to decide what companies can grow here and what ones need to leave as they get too big?

    And why is it that everyone picks on Kodak? Sure its not what it used to be. the board of directors, with local representation, let a failed CEO continue to lead the company down the ever declining slope for years, and lots of people lost .. a lot. But Kodaks annual revenues are still over 2B. If a new company with 2B Revenues moved into Roch today, we’d never hear the end of how great it is. The Gov would be here, the Mayor and the County executive would be claiming they sold the company on ROCH. But locally Kodak is a failed company even though they haven’t totally failed yet and they are on the rebound.

    Xerox, on the other hand moved 1,000s of high skilled / STEM type jobs out of ROCH to India in the last few years as well — BUT their hailed and admired female CEO;s are boasted about locally and in the press. . Their CEO’s called it ” right shoring”. They moved both engineering and manufacturing jobs out of ROC but in the local press they are hero’s. And they quietly sold their tower downtown to make a move out of ROC easy. Don’t hear too much about the Xerox de-commits on DT ROC do we? But hey, they do fund part of the Roc jazz.

    I guess one company Xerox is cool and hip with diversity, and the other Kodak .. is yesterdays problem. Pay no attention to what they do to their rochester work force.

  4. I don’t think anyone is bashing Kodak, but the region can’t be dependent on a single company. It’s a lesson to remember as U of R expands, enjoy it, embrace it, and help it but diversify. Don’t neglect other companies and industries, because no company is giant forever. If we don’t learn that lesson, when U of R contracts in a few decades we’ll be right back to where we are now.

    I do agree with you Xerox does get off with moving jobs out of the area and the headquarters out of state. Burns’ decisions hav taken jobs from the area but the D&C still fawns over her.

  5. The comments on the “putting all our eggs in one basket with one (Kodak) employer misses a few points.:

    We, the public “don’t decide” what business grows here and what ones don’t. Its a free market. Are we supposed to say NO you can’t build or expand here? Come again? Maybe we should “community organize” and build roadblocks and not permit them to build or grow in the Roch area at all…..kinda like the opposition to Wegmans new store on East Ave. Yea that makes a lot of sense. We should put the brakes on the UR then right now!

    Kodak at it’s peak had about 60K local employees. At the same time GM/Delco likely had more than 10K, Xerox about 7 to 10K B&L, Harris, French’s Champion, average around 5K each, likely 10 K working in local banking, UR and RIT, Wegmans at least 5K each… Kodak was the biggest but they weren’t totally dominant. Rochester in 1970’s was not a single mine town. We had lots of employers with good paying jobs.

  6. When did I ever say to tell a company not to expand or to stifle their expansion? Please show me. I said to embrace that expansion, enjoy it, and encourage it, but don’t get a single track mind. So while right now City Hall should be doing all it can to help U of R, it should also be out there courting businesses in different industries and working to keep other companies in Rochester. We have a problem of seeing one big company as a savior and ignoring all other companies.

    • February 8, 2015 at 5:48 pm Downtown Professional responds:

      I was about to reply something like that, but you said it much better than I. Any ecosystem does much better when there is a diversity of species, especially when a disruption happens. That’s all I’m saying. And that goes for an area’s employment base as much as it goes for, say, the lawn in front of one’s house. Remember how the fusarium blight killed off all of the Kentucky Blue Grass, and wiped out the monoculture lawns, but didn’t destroy the lawns that had a variety of grass in them? An area whose employment base is dominated by a few very large companies runs a similar risk. Large companies are truly wonderful; indeed, I used to work for Kodak remember it fondly. However, we also need to encourage diversity of companies and industries.

      • February 8, 2015 at 6:43 pm Orielly responds:

        It is an unfortunate illustration of how an area must not ever allow itself to be dependent upon a single large employer or a single industry.

        My point is a counterpoint to this sentence.. Rochester was never NEVER dependent on Kodak. Only Kodakers though this. More people, by factors of 10 or more, worked for other companies in the area that were unrelated in any way to Kodak. Rochester Products and Delco paid their production workers better, and had 1000s of them, See the list of companies in my above post. But again its a free market and if a company wants to expand in the area .. let them. vs not ever allow itself to become dependent.

        Many people are surprised that Rochester could absorb the layoffs at Kodak and Xerox. Not if you knew the areas base and wealth of companies. Unfortunately NYS taxes have driven more away. When was the last time that a local company got bought out and decided to consolidate and move hdq here? And don’t blame the weather .. Toronto is booming 70 miles (as the crow fly’s) away.

        • At its peak Kodak had about 60,000 workers locally I believe and that doesn’t count the employees of businesses that provided support to Kodak. Kodak and Kodak dependent jobs were easily 1/3 to 1/2 of the workforce. I think that’s pretty dependent. I really don’t get why you keep saying “don’t let a company expand”, I’ve never said that and in fact said the opposite. What I was saying was local leaders need to be cognizant of the large percentage of the workforce dependent on one company and needs to focus attention on attracting unrelated industries to the area. The only reason why Rochester has faired relatively well was because we had high skilled jobs at Kodak, Xerox, B&L, etc that could transition to something else. If we were more dependent on auto manufacturing or steel like Buffalo, we’d have done much worse. We’re just lucky that a laid off Kodak engineer could better land on his feet than some guy working a brake press for GM.

          I do agree with you on taxes though. I believe that is the largest reason for companies leaving and down state will never comprehend the negative affect it has. NYC is lucky, there is a unique draw to it, so companies will tolerate the higher cost of business for that benefit. Buffalo, Rochester, and Syracuse enjoy no such aura or intrinsic value so companies beat feet for greener pastures. That is the reason Albany has been so unresponsive to Upstate’s needs, downstaters just can’t comprehend it.

  7. Xerox and Kodak were large employers however those 50,000 – 60,000 jobs lost were inevitable no political or business person would have stopped it from happened. Let’s be practical here most of those jobs were mostly old economy jobs, servicing copiers, manufacturing film, secretarial work and so on.

    In terms of new companies starting here, NYS taxes can be a factor however out in the west in California and Washington those odds have been beaten, because these cities in these states have been able to build industries around that are hotspots to these new economy jobs, where it’s seen as a place you have to be in order to be successful. Every year hundreds of our college graduates, and millennial are heading out west because they see it as a mecca for success.

    Unfortunately in this community I hear Manufacturing and healthcare mentioned far to often as the industry that’s going to save rochester. Not only are the start up costs significantly higher not to mention it takes years or even a decade for an investor to get a return. The opportunity for growth in this community which is totally ignored is software/IT and surprisingly even video gaming/simulations. We even ignore the opportunity to bring data centers to locations like Eastman Business Park.

    You go city to city in the rust belt and upstate, ny and you seem to hear the same thing over and over again. If we are just another rust belt city betting on manufacturing and healthcare I don’t see how we move ahead of Buffalo, Cleveland and the rest of the Nation.

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