Photonics Adds To UR Goal To Boost Rochester

Jul 27, 2015

It may remind you of how Kodak used to lead our community back in the days when it printed money - or rather, film.

Now, the University of Rochester, through its 27-thousand member workforce, hopes to create positive change in a manner reminiscent of the old "Kodak town."

President Joel Seligman spoke about the effort with WXXI at the announcement Monday of the Photonic Institute award to Rochester.

Seligman chairs the regional economic development council, which works to turn “big picture” visions into real opportunity. He also runs our area's largest employer.

"But we're stepping out. We'll play an increasingly critical role not only in helping projects like Eastman Business Park, but the Downtown Innovation Zone, in which I anticipate, the new AIM (American Institute for Manufacturing Integrated) Photonics will have its administrative headquarters."

Monday’s photonics announcement is another ingredient in the mix.

"RIT and the University of Rochester are moving major facilities into the Sibley Building. We are determined it will be a location to incubate and grow new businesses - and photonics is the poster child of what we want to achieve."

Seligman also supports the work of the local Anti-Poverty Task Force.

"We're trying to connect everything to everything. There's a phrase in German: 'Gestalt' everything is connected to everything. And in this city, our challenge is we want everything to rise together, and workforce development is a critical part of this."

And the effort may provide former Kodakers and Xeroxers skills for new jobs.

Seligman told WXXI that eventually, breakthroughs in photonics will produce jobs in our community.

"We'll have manufacturing. We'll also need to realize we'll have jobs at every level. How fast we will create them? I can't say yet. How many new manufacturers and what the increase in employment will be? I can't say that. I can tell you one thing, the trajectory will be positive."

Seligman warns it won't happen overnight, but our photonics effort will be as strong as any in the country.