Snapshots: 60 Seconds with Matt Hurlbutt, Greater Rochester Enterprise

Matt Hurlbutt, President & CEO, Greater Rochester Enterprise, discusses the region's Economic Gardening program, along with its status as a high-tech, life sciences and food processing hub.

Business Facilities: Greater Rochester Enterprise has expanded its Economic Gardening program. What are the keys to the success of this program?

Greater Rochester Enterprise
Matt Hurlbutt, President & CEO, Greater Rochester Enterprise

Matt Hurlbutt: Several factors contribute to the success of GRE’s Economic Gardening program, which is the first of its kind in New York State. There are numerous smart business executives based in Rochester, NY leading innovative and entrepreneurial second stage companies that are experiencing rapid growth and success in a wide array of industries from optics, photonics and imaging to software and information technology. They are the backbone of our economy, accounting for 15 percent of the companies and 40 percent of the jobs. GRE’s Economic Gardening program connects participating business leaders with the resources they need to generate increased revenue and new jobs. Through the program, participating companies gain access to high quality data that helps them make decisions faster and with more confidence. As a result, participating companies have created 1,625 jobs and revenue growth of $340 million.

BF: Downtown Rochester has become vibrant high-tech hub. What role does higher education play in making sure a highly skilled workforce is available?

MH: Each year, 80,000 students attend 19 colleges and universities with thousands completing internships and co-ops each year. According to the U.S. Department of Education, Greater Rochester, NY ranks third in the nation for college degrees per capita. This tremendous pipeline gives software and tech companies an edge over their competition. According to CBRE Labor Analytics, Rochester is a top hiring-opportunity market ranking first for cybersecurity and third for Python. As a result, we see more high-tech firms like Panasonic, Calero-MDSL and ITX opening offices and headquarters in Rochester’s Downtown Innovation Zone. Higher education institutions also fuel the region’s start-up community. For example, business incubator NextCorps partners with the Rochester Institute of Technology Center for Urban Entrepreneurship and University of Rochester to pair world-class R&D resources with emerging business leaders. Private sector growth enabled by higher education is also giving way to new investment. Gallina Development plans to transform the former Xerox Tower, a 30-story, 520,000 square-foot facility, into a dynamic, collaborative campus rebranded as Innovation Square.

BF: Greater Rochester is a major Life Sciences hub. Will reshoring in the medical sector and the development of new medical treatments bring more jobs to the region?

MH: Our regional economy provides the capacity needed to get products to market—and ultimately patients—fast. For example, the rapid increase in research and production for COVID-19 testing, treatment and vaccines has created historic demand for laboratory plastics produced at Thermo Fisher Scientific, which will invest $50 million and create 75 new jobs at its Rochester facility. Other companies leading the charge include Ortho Clinical Diagnostics, Baxter Healthcare, Unither Pharmaceuticals, IEC Electronics, Bausch + Lomb, Carestream and Eastman Kodak. Their investments contribute to new medical treatments, manufacturing of medical equipment and reshoring of the pharma supply chain.

BF: Have logistics networks kept pace with the growth of the food processing sector in the region?

MH: Greater Rochester produces 38 percent of all food and beverage products in NY. This massive output includes brands such as Barilla, Kraft Heinz, Lactaid and Mott’s; there are more than 250 food and beverage companies and suppliers investing in our regional economy. HP Hood, LiDestri and Zweigle’s are just a few of the companies that continue to expand here. With access to 128 million consumers within 500 miles, Greater Rochester, NY is a strategic location backed by unlimited fresh water supply and robust agricultural resources. We also have a fully integrated supply chain. ProAmpac, a leader in the flexible packaging industry, recently broke ground on a new Collaboration and Innovation Center (CIC). When the CIC opens in 2021, it will be a center for development, prototyping and rapid evaluation of new packaging, as well as training and collaboration space to host customer ideation sessions. ProAmpac leaders chose to expand in Rochester to leverage the depth and breadth of packaging expertise, talent and connectivity to R & D resources.

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