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Photonics Institute Will Be A "Game-Changer" For The Region's Economy

Randy Gorbman

Vice President Joe Biden visits the Greece Canal Ponds Business Park for a speech on Monday morning.

It's for one of this area's most eagerly anticipated announcements in years and the Congresswoman who was key in  moving the project along believes it will help lead to an economic transformation in the Rochester area.

The phrase “game-changer” was used repeated by Congresswoman Louise Slaughter, and Tom Battley, Executive Director of a group called New York Photonics, when they spoke to reporters on Sunday about the impending announcement that Rochester has been chosen by the federal government to be the hub of a photonics institute.

Photonics involves the use of light and optics in a number of high-tech applications and electronics.

Slaughter says it's hard to exaggerate just how big an impact this project could have on this region.

"This consists of  $110 million from the Department of Defense, along with $500 million from industry and the State of New York. The estimate for jobs is about 6,000, I think there may even be more, there will be companies moving in here."

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Battley says among the advantages to Rochester winning a national competition for the photonics institute is what it will do to stop the so-called “brain drain” of talented scientists and engineers to other parts of the country.

"We train scientists and then they look for places to work outside Rochester. If this is a national center for photonics manufacturing we'll be attracting talent from outside instead of shipping it away," Battley told reporters in a news conference at Slaughter's district office in Rochester.

Governor Andrew Cuomo will also be speaking at the 11:00 a.m. announcement Monday at SUNY Polytechnic at the Canal Ponds Business Park in Greece.  WXXI  AM 1370 will carry that address live and online and we’ll also have extensive coverage of the event all day long.

Slaughter says Under Secretary of Defense Frank Kendall will also be attending the announcement.

The Congresswoman expects to have a meeting in early August with various stakeholders to start the initial steps of getting the photonics institute off the ground.

Get a history of the photonics development in Rochester HERE.

Randy Gorbman is WXXI's director of news and public affairs. Randy manages the day-to-day operations of WXXI News on radio, television, and online.