Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Resilient Rochester Vol. 2

This is the second installment in a three-post series dealing with the actual resiliency of the Rochester economy as opposed to the perceived negativity.

The following stories highlight the role of city businesses in remaking the employment landscape in a world where mega-corporations are fewer and farther between.

by Matthew Daneman, Rochester Democrat and Chronicle

Article Key Points:
  • Kodak sold its health group last year. This became Carestream Health Inc.
  • With its corporate headquarters on Verona St., Carestream employs 8,100 worldwide, 1400 locally
  • Many of Carestream's workers at the West Ridge Road Facility inherited from Kodak had 20 to 30 years experience
  • In eight months following the sale, the company generated $200M after various debt repayments

I think this is an excellent example of how people twist the loss of Kodak job numbers for their statistical purposes. While naysayers will claim the loss of 1400 jobs in the local workforce, very little changed for the workers themselves.

Lightwave Can Trace its Shine Back to Brilliance at Kodak
by Matthew Daneman, Rochester Democrat and Chronicle

Article Key Points:

  • Rexford Fisher left Kodak in 2000 to start Lightwave, an optical engineering house
  • Kodak and Xerox have ended up customers of Lightwave
  • Rochester in general has national prominence in optics
  • 70 percent of products are shipped internationally

Despite downsizing, large companies can still give back to their home communities by liberating years of technical experience as well as business acumen. Mr. Fisher recognizes company's his niche in the local economy and does his best to fill a need without arrogant aspirations.

Small IT Company Growing Byte by Byte
by Daniel Wallace, Rochester Democrat & Chronicle

Article Key Points:

  • Tim Scahill built Layer 8 Group Inc. by purchasing unwanted divisions of smaller IT consulting groups
  • Since 2005, Layer 8 has grown at a 30% annual rate
  • Layer 8 occupies space in the renovated Buckingham Commons building on Allen St.

This shows the marketability of new downtown office space in historic structures as well as the entrepreneurial spirit exhibited by an MCC graduate who long worked as de facto IT before that term came into being.

Change in Strategy Saves Local Company
by Sean Dobbin, Rochester Democrat and Chronicle

Article Key Points:

  • Printing Methods Inc. is a full-service custom commercial printer on Emerson St.
  • Switched its focus in the late '90's from local companies to those outside the area
  • In last 13 years has increased workforce by 500% and sales by 800%
  • Kodak remains PMI's largest local client
  • National client base consists of pharmaceutical companies and banks

The ability to not sit on one's hands is already very important in the business world. Diversification of the economy is not evil as the old corporate guard would have you believe. Diversification of customer base can have the same effect on profitability and "growth" as increased work orders from a major firm.

I decided to leave the Microbrewery article out since both are still primarily based outside of the city. These other stories are certainly encouraging and whether these companies employ 15, 50, or 500, they are doing something to stabilize the community at large.

Tomorrow I will finish up with some facts and figures. This weekend I will get off of the Rochester kick for a little while and hopefully get a large piece on Pinellas County, Florida up by Sunday, a possible date for our first (and hopefully last) open house.

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