Finger Lakes Business Accelerator Cooperative To Locate In Rochester, NY

Posted by Heidi Schwartz

High Tech Rochester’s Finger Lakes Business Accelerator Cooperative will locate in the former Sibley’s department store in downtown Rochester, creating the cornerstone component of the newly designated Downtown Innovation Zone. Both the Business Accelerator and The Sibley Building were awarded funding through NY Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo’s Regional Economic Development Council initiative. It is estimated that the Business Accelerator will create more than 1,000 new jobs—in the forms of new business creation or expansion—in the first five years of operation. The initial phases of The Sibley Building’s redevelopment are projected to create more than 900 jobs.

The Sibley Building rooftop.
The Sibley Building rooftop.

“This will help create jobs and grow the local economy– all anchored in an important Rochester landmark,” Gov. Cuomo said. “Repurposing and developing The Sibley Building is an important step for Rochester, and this transformation is a great example of what can be achieved through the Regional Council process.”

Lieutenant Governor Robert J. Duffy said, “This project will create a community and business hub in Rochester, with entrepreneurs, support institutions, public transportation and housing right here in downtown. Under the Governor’s support, we are revitalizing the Finger Lakes region and creating a center for entrepreneurship and innovation in the city’s urban core. I thank our partners that support The Sibley Building as well as the Finger Lakes Business Accelerator Cooperative for their hard work in making this a true home for development.”

The $1.1 million square foot former Sibley’s department store in downtown Rochester is in the midst of a $200 million comprehensive restoration. The project will transform the largest building in Monroe County into a mix of affordable and market-rate apartments, office and retail space, an outdoor roof terrace, an urban farmers market and underground parking. The project is a critical component of Rochester’s downtown revitalization and will attract residents, employment and investment back to the city’s center. The building is within a 15-minute walk of the entire downtown core and the thriving East End district, and it is directly adjacent to the region’s new transit center.

High Tech Rochester’s Business Accelerator, which received $5 million in the fourth round of Regional Council funding, has reached a deal with The Sibley Building’s developer, WinnDevelopment, to locate on the top floor of the building. The creation of a $24 million incubation and business support facility in downtown Rochester will drive regional growth in entrepreneurship and innovation, as well as help accelerate the revitalization of the city by creating an “innovation district” in the heart of Rochester.

The Business Accelerator will serve a broad range of businesses from small service enterprises to technology-based start-ups across all industry clusters with the goal of accelerating the growth of local small businesses by moving clients through the formation, incubation and accelerated phase of growth. It will bring streamlined programs and services to entrepreneurs and small businesses throughout the region, including outreach to underrepresented groups, such as minority- and woman-owned businesses and young entrepreneurs. New York State has already awarded $5 million to the multi-phase accelerator project during the 2011 and 2012 Consolidated Funding Application processes. So far, a portion on this support has enabled the establishment of a region-wide video conferencing system that better connects the region’s entrepreneurs with necessary resources and the creation of an online entrepreneurship resource center.

High Tech Rochester President Jim Senall said, “We are thrilled to announce the selection of The Sibley building as the site of HTR’s new headquarters and the future home to some of the most innovative and exciting startup companies in our region. Given the building’s rich history and importance to our city, I can think of no better site to serve as the hub of our region’s growing innovation economy.”

WinnDevelopment Vice President Joseph Eddy said, “We’re thrilled to welcome High Tech Rochester to Rochester’s largest and most beloved building. Renovating the historic Sibley Building and transforming downtown Rochester wouldn’t be possible without the support and leadership from Gov. Cuomo and the Finger Lakes Regional Economic Development Council. This project demonstrates the success of public-private partnerships and how targeted investments focusing on the strengths of a region can be a catalyst for economic development.”