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Photonics R&D facility in Rochester ready for its first customers

Randy Gorbman
WXXI news

Ed White, who helps oversee the so-called TAP, or test, assembly and packaging facility, gave reporters a tour of the progress being made at the Rochester operation on Monday.

Crews have been working on it for months, bringing in specialized tools and other equipment. There are just a couple of dozen people working in that building now, although that may increase if the AIM Photonics effort continues to attract new customers.

When state and federal officials first talked about making Rochester a photonics hub a few years ago, some political leaders talked about the potential for it creating several thousand jobs.

But these days, officials directly involved in the process caution that jobs will come, but it will be a long-term process.

White says the Lake Avenue operation is mainly going to be used for research and development.

“The test is really in how customers value us and customers see us; and the early customers are very interested in using our capability. Having this ecosystem in the U.S. is a game-changer," White said.

Credit Randy Gorbman / WXXI News
A 'clean room' that will be used at the Test, Assembly and Packaging operation on Lake Avenue

John Maggiore, chairman of the New York State Photonics Board of Officers, says it will take time for  the job growth numbers to be realized.

“AIM Photonics is not a company itself, it’s a consortium ... there are a certain number of people who work for AIM Photonics, but this is not going to be the generator of jobs per se, itself.  Jobs will come about as a result of the type of research that will be done here," Maggiore explained.

At least two companies are interested in using the new TAP facility now, and state officials say with the help of $30 million in state aid announced by Gov. Andrew Cuomo earlier this year, there is an outreach effort aimed at bringing in photonics companies to set up manufacturing operations in the Rochester area. 

The R&D facility is meant to help photonics companies develop technology used in a wide variety of activities, everything from defense applications to food safety. Two customers are expected to be using the facility by the end of this year.
Ed White, corporate outreach executive at the TAP, or Test, Assembly and Packaging, operation for photonics on Lake Avenue in Rochester, gives reporters a tour of the facility:

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.