September 06, 2011
Source: Messenger Post
Canandaigua, N.Y. — You don’t have to go far these days to see reminders of upstate’s industrial past. Just about every city is littered with idle manufacturing facilities — some aging, some not so old.
Indeed, industrial space has outpaced need for years as manufacturing’s prominence in the state and nation has declined, especially in the northeast.
At least two sites in the region, the old Xerox facility on Route 332 in Canandaigua and the former Labelon site off Route 21 in Hopewell, were among those whose futures were in doubt.
For the former Xerox facility, the time it laid idle wasn’t long. Millions of dollars in state and federal taxpayer money poured into a high-tech research endeavor government officials claimed would generate hundreds, if not thousands, of jobs. That endeavor was Infotonics, which, despite several infusions of government aid, never matched the expectations.
But instead of closing shop, leaders at the site retooled, creating a new affiliation with the College of Nanoscale Science and Engineering at the State University of New York at Albany and a new name, the Smart System Technology and Commercialization Center.
And instead of a facility focused mostly on research to benefit the region’s high-tech manufacturers, STC has become a manufacturing site itself. Last Thursday, officials celebrated the start of renovations to a portion of the site for the manufacture of state-of-the-art lighting panels by Moser Baer, a company based in India that specializes in data storage such as CDs and DVDs.
Sen. Charles Schumer, who helped steer a $3 million grant for the project, said he’s pushing for a chip fabrication operation as well for STC.
Meanwhile, on the other side of Canandaigua, a manufacturing site that has sat vacant for years will have life again.
Finger Lakes Extrusion, a Cayuga County business co-founded by Middlesex resident William Scott, will move into the former Labelon building in Hopewell, where it will build plastic tubing for the automotive, pharmaceutical and dairy industries. Scott said the company, which has about 20 employees and may add eight more within time, has run out of space at its Cayuga County site.
The Ontario County Industrial Development Agency is expected to provide financial assistance for the company as it renovates the site for its needs.
Vacant manufacturing sites can be a scar on the landscape, reminding us of what was once a teeming upstate manufacturing economy. But the resurgence of these two sites shows that when legislators and economic development officials work together, new life can be found for empty buildings. For the sake of the region’s economy, we can only hope for similar outcomes at other locales.