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With two photonics companies moving to Rochester, all of Western New York benefits

Buffalo should be just as happy as Rochester is about the governor’s recent announcement of two photonics companies coming to that city.

As the entire upstate and Western New York regions go, so, too, goes each individual town, village or city. We all rise – and fall – together. As one region.

That is the governor’s point as he focuses on each of our upstate and Western New York areas. Buffalo continues to bask in Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo’s billion-dollar pledge. The $900 million solar panel factory at RiverBend in South Buffalo, which will be the largest in the Western Hemisphere when it opens next year, is one obvious example. Thousands of jobs are expected once SolarCity is up and running.

Cuomo, along with Vice President Joseph Biden, took a road trip to Rochester last July to announce plans for a $600 million hub for photonics. Big dreams of companies being lured to the hub have started to come true.

The photonics manufacturing initiative just brought in its first two companies – Photonica and Avogy. Both companies pledged to bring 800 jobs to Rochester and act as the catalyst for more than 600 other jobs at other companies that provide supplies and services to the manufacturers.

The project will use a similar “Buffalo Billion” model. The state will build and help equip the factories, and the companies will occupy the facilities.

Robert J. Duffy, president and CEO of the Greater Rochester Chamber of Commerce and Cuomo’s former lieutenant governor, remarked on the transformative promise this news holds. Duffy is also a former mayor of Rochester. The state agreed to spend $75 million to build “clean rooms” and purchase production equipment.

Photonica, a California-based company, makes visual and display technology used in ultrahigh-definition televisions and large video displays. That company has pledged to create 400 jobs to be housed at the photonics hub and advanced manufacturing operations at Eastman Business Park. Some of the company’s operations are now at the SUNY Polytechnic Institute Colleges of Nanoscale Sciences and Engineering in Albany.

Avogy is a Silicon Valley company that is developing inexpensive and highly efficient power electronics technology. The range of devices this technology can be used in includes laptop chargers to data centers and electric vehicles. The company pledged to employ nearly 400 workers, with an average annual salary of more than $80,000 within five years of its opening. It also plans to move its headquarters to Rochester.

The state is relying on what has worked in developing the semiconductor industry in Albany, and that is underway in Buffalo with SolarCity. It is investing in state-of-the-art clean rooms and equipment to be used by the companies. The companies have promised to conduct advanced manufacturing in Rochester.

The photonics hub, backed by $110 million in federal Defense Department grant money and $250 million of state funds, sounds like a winning combination for Rochester and for the entire upstate and Western New York areas.