Patience paying off for longtime business owners near Eastman Business Park

As a location is picked for the AIM Photonics center, many nearby businesses are hoping for a boost (WHAM photo)

Rochester, NY - The announcement of a new Photonics manufacturing facility at Eastman Business Park is the latest in a long list of changes and potential changes aimed at re-inventing Kodak's former footprint.

Local business owners nearby the site tell 13WHAM they are starting to feel like their patience is paying off.

"We were around the clock, 24-7, back in the early history of our restaurant," said Chris Christanis, Owner of The Peppermill restaurant.

This week, The Peppermill is celebrating it's 40th anniversary.

Like many businesses near Eastman Business Park, the fall of Kodak hit hard.

"Sometimes, I don't know what's keeping us going," said Christanis. "Hard work, I think, and our reputation."

The changes are already underway at the park, and businesses are hopeful that leads them closer to where they used to be.

Dozens of small businesses have already moved in, with more than 6,000 employees. A medical marijuana facility opened this year, and now a photonics manufacturing facility is on it's way.

"It's just more opportunity for every business on West Ridge Road, and we've been waiting for this help," said Fabulous Flowers and Gifts Owner Tom Dougherty.

Fabulous Flowers and Gifts is wrapping up it's 58th year in business on West Ridge Road.

McGinnity's restaurant has been there for 42.

"We saw the downturn here, and we've had the recession, so we're ready to go up - and hopefully the theater will bring more dinner people here," said McGinnity's owner Bridie McGinnity.

The theater is another proposed change by Kodak. "Kodak Center" would be an entertainment venue with the marquee right on West Ridge Road. Kodak is also in the process of designing residential programs along with other shops and restaurants.

"Patience is our virtue. For 40 years, we've been patient," said Christanis.

Now, those longtime businesses are ready for change, but experts tell 13WHAM it could still take some time.

"In the very short term, the next year, there will be little impact. In the long term, the next 5-10 years, I think it could be massive," said Mark Peterson, President and CEO of Greater Rochester Enterprise. "Put another 3-to-4 thousand people working in that park and it's going to change that whole neighborhood."

The photonics facility is expected to be ready in about 6 to 9 months. There is no currently timetable for development of Kodak Center and the other surrounding endeavors.

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