Rochester — the birthplace to corporations such as Kodak, Bausch & Lomb and Xerox — created great demand for both skill and innovation in the 20th century and there was a time that those three companies employed 20 percent of the city’s workforce.
Rapid changes in technology and global competition in the 1980s cut into all three and the city suffered for it, but that long term influx of engineers and other innovators left the city uniquely positioned to rise.
Despite a steep decline in manufacturing jobs since the 1980s, New York Fed CEO William Dudley has said, “Rochester’s manufacturing sector has been very dynamic. While once focused on the ‘Big 3,’ the region is now producing a much more diverse set of products, such as foods, computers and electronics. And, the manufacturing companies that remained are leaner and have an even higher-skilled workforce than in the past.”
And in the last 15 years or so, the city has gained more than 40,000 non-manufacturing jobs.
Rochester has become a major hub for immigration and now has large Puerto Rican, Jamaican, Turkish and Polish communities. And the rebirth of the city is showcased by the Xerox Rochester International Jazz Festival, which was established in 2002 and now draws nearly 200,000 fans.
And Rochester has a history of being home to people who fight for justice and equity. Both abolitionist Frederick Douglass and social reformer Susan B. Anthony are buried in Mount Hope Cemetery.