Vice President Joe Biden was in Rochester Monday, along with Gov. Andrew Cuomo, to officially announce Rochester will be the site of the new American Institute for Manufacturing (AIM) Photonics, a $600 million investment in manufacturing which will bring thousands of jobs to the area, Biden stated.
According to Biden, although manufacturing giants such as Xerox and Kodak are no longer what they once were, there are now hundreds of new, area companies with the capability of continuing Rochester’s optics legacy.
“You’ve gone from making Brownie cameras, to lenses that are now mapping the far side of Pluto,” Biden stated.
Photonics uses light, or photons, in lasers, telecommunications and other technology, he explained. The vice president said federal officials expect photonics manufacturing to improve Internet speed, medical technology, and radar and battlefield imaging used by the Department of Defense.
The state will contribute $250 million in funds for the venture, while $110 million will come from the Department of Defense, and a consortium of private companies and other donors will contribute the rest.
However, according to Biden, “insourcing” employment will be key.
He said there had been $936 billion of foreign investment in U.S. manufacturing last year, and, on the flip side of outsourcing, many American manufacturing companies were considering bringing jobs back to the U.S.
“Things are changing,” he stated.
U.S. Rep. Louise Slaughter, D-Fairport, also spoke at the event. Slaughter spearheaded the effort to bring the institute to the area.
“We have made Rochester the nation’s leader in photonics,” she stated. “And, this institution is our proof.”
Rochester Mayor Lovely Warren, and Rep. Tom Reed (R-Corning) also attended the event.
Warren thanked Gov. Cuomo for putting together the “winning team” that helped apply to compete for the manufacturing institute.
The region had been one of three finalists in a competition President Barack Obama announced in 2012, edging out both Florida and California for the win.
“I see Rochester as a place full of opportunity,” she stated.
According to Biden, scientists may begin researching projects for the institute as soon as the next several months.
About 200 people gathered to hear the vice president’s speech Monday, at the Canal Ponds Business Park in Greece.