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  • UpstateRevitalizationInitiative Plan

    October 2015

  • B Finger Lakes | Regional Economic Development CouncilPhoto by: Matt Wittmeyer

    Wegmans Organic Farm in Canandaigua

  • i2015 Upstate Revitalization Initiative Plan




    Table of contents




    Key Growth Pillars

    Key Enablers

    Recommended Funding Allocations

    Governance &Implementation
























    Letter from the Co-Chairs


    Significant Private Investment will Exceed State Goals

    The Finger Lakes Region is Ready for Transformative Progress

    4.1 Optics, Photonics, and Imaging

    4.2 Agriculture and Food Production

    4.3 Next Generation Manufacturing and Technology

    5.1 Pathways to Prosperity: Workforce Development

    5.2 Entrepreneurship and Development

    5.3 Higher Education and Research

    Proposed URI Allocation

    Proposed Governance Structure

    United for Success

    9.1 Demonstration of Support

    9.2 Summary of Highlighted Initiatives

    9.3 Methodology

    9.4 Concepts to Address

    9.5 Bibliography and Endnotes

  • ii Finger Lakes | Regional Economic Development Council

    The region, and its urban core, Rochester, was once a majormanufacturing hub whose products and talent helped transformAmerican lives and whose population for much of the 20th centuryplaced it among the top 25 most populous cities in the nation.Over the last three decades, the regions major employers the same major corporations that provided generations of stabilityand prosperity have lost tens of thousands of jobs and theirdecline has profoundly impacted our region.

    Today, the Finger Lakes region is confronted by some of the greatest challenges and greatest opportunities of any region in New York State or our nation. The region has begun a fundamental economic transformation that provides the basis for it to evolve into a highly successful and diverse 21st centuryeconomy. But at the same time, it remains hampered by chronicpoverty that ranks among the worst in the U.S. and afflicts ourmost vulnerable.

    Thanks to Governor Andrew Cuomos leadership and

    unprecedented focus on economic development and poverty, we are making progress. Continued progress requires decisivestrategic investment, fundamental change, and a unitedcommunity. With the Upstate Revitalization Initiative and the Rochester-Monroe Anti-Poverty Initiative, we have createdunparalleled regional collaboration and optimism about our future.

    The plan we present here represents a shared vision to realizea once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, build upon our recent progress,transcend our significant challenges, and extend economicopportunity to all of our regions residents. Utilizing rigorousquantitative and qualitative analysis, comprehensive communityengagement, international best practices, and innovativeapproaches, we have developed a bold and ambitious plan for the future of our region.

    Our plan has identified the optimal targets for investment:three industry clusters and three economic enablers that form the foundation for sustainable economic development.

    he Finger Lakes region is at a decisive moment in its history. T

    A Letter from the co-chairs

  • iii

    The three industry clusters are unique strengths for the FingerLakes region: Optics, Photonics, and ImagingAgriculture and Food Production Next Generation Manufacturing and Technology

    Three economic enablers will facilitate the long-term developmentof these industry clusters and the region more broadly: Pathways to Prosperity (addressing workforce developmentand poverty reduction)Entrepreneurship and DevelopmentHigher Education and Research

    This plan builds off the regions high quality of life and providesdetailed strategies for each of these areas, and we are confidentthat this comprehensive plan will catalyze transformation in the Finger Lakes region.

    We take pride in the fact that every vote of the FLREDC for fiveconsecutive years has been unanimous. We are a united community.We are united for success.

    Let us especially thank Governor Cuomo, Lieutenant GovernorKathy Hochul, and our state delegation for their support and thishistoric opportunity. We assume responsibility for developing the bestpossible plan and its implementation. To you, goes our gratitude forgiving us the opportunity to dramatically accelerate the progress ofour region. We also particularly thank the FLREDC, the UpstateRevital ization Initiative Steering Committee, more than 450indefatigable Work Group mem bers, and the thousands of regionalstakeholders and members of the public who participated in thisrecord process. This plan is a tribute to strong communityengagement and a united Finger Lakes region.

    And we are deeply grateful to The Boston Consulting Group, theUniversity at Buffalo Regional Institute, and the contributions of ourstaff for helping us take regional strategic planning to the next level.

    The plan we present here represents a shared vision to realize a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, build upon our recent progress, transcend our significantchallenges, and extend economic opportunity to all of our regions residents.

    Joel SeligmanPresident & CEO, University of Rochester

    Danny WegmanCEO, Wegmans Food Markets

  • iv Finger Lakes | Regional Economic Development Council

  • 1

    1Photo by: Matt Wittmeyer


  • 2 Finger Lakes | Regional Economic Development Council

    This is a decisive moment for the Finger Lakes region and its urban core, Rochester. The region is at a crossroadsbetween realizing its full potential and losing its hard-fought progress. The Upstate Revitalization Initiative (URI)will be pivotal for the Finger Lakes region to capitalize on its strengths and overcome barriers to growth.

    URI support is critical to take recent progress to the next leveland create a stronger and more prosperous community for all the regions citizens, build regional wealth by propelling long-termindustry growth, create diverse job opportunities, and furtherdevelop a dynamically skilled workforce that will transform theregion and reduce poverty a key priority for both GovernorCuomo and the Finger Lakes Regional Economic DevelopmentCouncil. The region possesses a unique set of opportunities todevelop, but there is fierce competition. A more connected worldprovides businesses with ever expanding options for investment,and URI support is essential to attract these investments to theFinger Lakes region. If successful with its URI plan, the FingerLakes region will attract private leverage up to $6.4 billion over thecourse of the next five years in innovative industries that will buildon core regional strengths and benefit all of New York State.

    The Finger Lakes regions aspiration is to achieve job creationand increased regional wealth by galvanizing privateinvestment to benefit the entire community.

    After decades of industrial decline, progress is evident in the FingerLakes. Recent investments, including more than $300 million in statesupport through the Finger Lakes Regional Economic DevelopmentCouncil (FLREDC), have helped to build upon the regions strengthsand create 25,000 new jobs since 2011.1 Unemployment is thelowest in eight years and private sector job creation over the lastthree months is the highest year-over-year growth since 1990. The City of Rochester is recouping its potential through investmentsin real estate and restoration of historic properties and a gradualincrease in jobs as more companies and residents return to the City.Confidence in the regions promise is on the rise, as Rochester was recently announced as the headquarters of a new federally-designated institute for Integrated Photonics, which will bring at least$115 million in state investment to the region. The regionsoutstanding higher education and healthcare systems and an increasingly diverse economy are emblematic of the progress the Finger Lakes has accomplished to date.

    While progress is evident, the region continues to struggle with fundamental challenges. For the last five years, private sectoremployment and wage growth have lagged behind state andnational averages.2 Rochester is a city of sharp contrasts: vibrantneighborhoods and business districts are juxtaposed with highconcentrations of poverty, unemployment, and substandardhousing. A total of 66,000 residents live below the federal povertyline in Rochester,3 and the City has the highest rate of extremepoverty and childhood poverty of any comparably sized city in the U.S.4 More than half of Rochester children live in households in poverty5 and nearly two-thirds receive public assistance.6

    The Rochester City School District is the lowest performing publicschool district in upstate New York7 and has the lowest graduationrate among large districts in the state, with only 45.5 percent ofhigh school students graduating in 2015.8

    The Finger Lakes regionis at a crossroads and the URI is essential for realizing its potential

    URI support is criticalto take recent progress to the next level and createa stronger and moreprosperous community for all the regions citizens.

  • 3

    SiMPore, a UR start-up company, is developing an advanced nano-scalefiltration system for use in biotechnology.

  • 4 Finger Lakes | Regional Economic Development Council

    The Finger Lakes URI planaddresses four overarching objectives:

    The URI plan consist


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