Two tech firms to bring 1,400 jobs to Rochester

Governor Cuomo making a photonics-related announcement Wednesday in Rochester

Rochester, N.Y. - Two big photonics firms are coming to Rochester and bringing hundreds of jobs with them.

It is the first major job announcement since Rochester was named the site of the U.S. Photonics Institute in July.

"It's a $1.6 billion investment and [means] 1,400 new jobs coming to Rochester," said Governor Cuomo, who made the announcement in Rochester Wednesday morning.

The two companies are Photonica Inc. and Avogy, Avogy will move its entire operation here.

"You have a company from Silicon Valley coming to Rochester. Just think of how amazing that is," Cuomo said.

Avogy makes power sources for electronic devices such as computers and smart phones. It's moving here to use the next generation of optics known as photonics to develop cells that can power electronics using light.

It will make the chargers much smaller, light weight, and capable of powering for weeks or months instead of hours or days.

Avogy's CEO says the company will move here within the next six to nine months.

"We have a plan," CEO Dinesh Ramanathan said. "We have to make sure we set up our facility here and move equipment in here. Once we do that we can go hiring people."

The jobs will pay an average $80,000 a year, according to a press release from the governor's office.

Ramanathan said the Photonics Institute designation played a role in his decision.

"You have a university that does good work and a lot of excellent facilities are here," Ramanathan said. "Creating a hub means there is a significant amount of talent that will drive the workforce."

New York State will invest to create clean rooms at Canal Ponds Park to help develop new technologies. High tech manufacturing will happen at Eastman Business Park.

"We will become the center for R & D," Cuomo said. "The companies then come for the clean room and research capacity and that generates a whole cluster economy around that asset."

A second company - Photonica - works in creating video displays, routing applications for telecom, and photonic integrated circuits, according to its website. It will not move to Rochester but has pledged to develop new products here and create 400 jobs over the next five years.

But the mechanism for creating some of these jobs is much less certain.

Avogy, for example, has 48 employees now. Its job commitment here?

"Over the next five years - about 200," Ramanathan said.

That's half the number cited in the press release from the Governor's office. There is also little explanation of where 600 jobs included in this announcement will come from.

"It's what they call direct jobs and support jobs," Cuomo said.

The state will invest $75 million between the two companies to build the clean rooms and provide other equipment. That is part of the $250 million it pledged to attract federal money and create the Photonics Institute.

New York State Representative Louise Slaughter released a statement Wednesday morning, praising the move by Governor Cuomo.

"On behalf of our community, I would like to once again express my gratitude to Governor Cuomo, Majority Leader Morelle, the University of Rochester, and RIT for their partnership and commitment to ensuring Rochester remains the global capital of optics and photonics. Today's announcement is a significant stepping stone of success added to the three-plus year campaign I led to bring the photonics institute to Rochester. From the beginning it was clear that this public-private manufacturing partnership had the potential to create a ripple effect across the region by leveraging our incredible expertise to help create jobs and bring new investments to our community. There's no doubt that photonics is already helping lift our economy to new heights."
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