Defense Department chooses Rochester for photonics center

AP News
|
Posted: Jul 22, 2015 6:49 PM

ROCHESTER, N.Y. (AP) — The Department of Defense has picked Rochester as the location for a sought-after manufacturing hub focused on the field of integrated photonics, U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer said Wednesday, ahead of an official announcement.

The New York Democrat called the project a "game-changer" for Rochester. He compared it to the founding of photography pioneer Kodak in the western New York city more than 100 years ago.

New York's congressional delegation has lobbied for the center since President Barack Obama's administration launched a competition for it last fall, committing $110 million toward development of a photonics "ecosystem."

Schumer said he was told Wednesday that Rochester had been chosen from among the three finalists. Sites in California and Florida were also in the running.

Photonics involves the use of light in lasers, telecommunications and other technology. Next-generation integrated photonics manufacturing is expected to improve Internet networks, medical technology and the radar and battlefield imaging used in national defense.

There was no official word on when the formal announcement will be made.

Vice President Joe Biden and Gov. Andrew Cuomo are scheduled to make a "major infrastructure announcement" in New York City on Monday, according to Cuomo's office. But no details were provided.

The new Integrated Photonics Institute for Manufacturing Innovation is intended to bring government, industry and academia together in a hub where research would be conducted, new products developed and assembled and a workforce developed.

The Rochester area already has more than 100 companies focused on optics and photonics, a number Schumer expects to multiply.

"The greatest hope is that this will produce thousands of good-paying jobs," he said.

New York's bid involved a consortium that includes the Rochester Institute of Technology, University of Rochester, State University of New York Polytechnic Institute, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, University of Arizona and University of California at Santa Barbara.

"With remarkable research universities, robust manufacturing capability and the most talented workforce in the country, the Rochester region is truly the nation's leader when it comes to photonics," U.S. Rep. Louise Slaughter, a Democrat from New York, said in a statement Wednesday.