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Meet Eastman Business Park's newest company

by Evan Dawson

Rochester, N.Y. -- Eastman Business Park is capping off a year of transition with the announcement of a potential anchor company. Naturally Scientific is a British company that is pairing with Rochester entrepreneurs to bring their operations to the old Kodak Park.

Keith Wilson, the company's CFO, said that Naturally Scientific considered locations in other states, including Florida, before choosing Rochester for a variety of reasons. He cited the $8 million in low interest loans for Empire State Development, along with a highly skilled local workforce.

"We expect to create 50 jobs by 2016, and 200 by 2018, and we hope these are people who live in Rochester and are interested in high-wage, high-quality, steady jobs," Wilson said. The company will partner with Sweetwater Energy, a local alternative-energy company led by Arunas Chesonis. Sweetwater will produce sugars that Naturally Scientific can use to create a variety of oils and biofuel materials.

It's all part of a revival of sorts at the business park. If you've wondered why New York state and local leaders are so willing to invest millions of tax dollars into the park, Mayor Tom Richards put it this way: "This has to succeed. It either moves forward or it slides back, and if it slides back, this community will pay a hell of a price for it. These environmental issues, these utility issues all require us to be successful here."

Kodak still owns 63 percent of the park's 16 million square feet, but 46 other companies now operate there, and that number is growing. A dozen companies have launched operations there in 2013.

"A lot of us will talk about the strengths and weaknesses of the state," Wilson said. "I'm here to tell you that the state is open for business."

There are now more people who work at Eastman Business Park that do not work for Kodak than those that do. Business leaders estimate 6,700 people now work at the old Kodak Park, and more than 4,000 work for other companies. Leaders are looking at bringing in a new owner and operator, but for now, Kodak is leading the revitalization efforts.

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Washington Times