The most important thing for Rochester and the Finger Lakes Region is that money meant to be invested at AIM Photonics and at STC MEMS in Canandaigua is not siphoned off to pay for promises made elsewhere or for shady schemes. We count on the primary lead investor, the DoD, to be certain that this doesn’t happen. What else can be done?
Four years ago, Alain Kaloyeros made a pledge as he stood with state and local leaders in a former Kodak building in suburban Rochester’s Canal Ponds business park.
More than 100 new jobs were on their way to Canal Ponds as part of a new $100 million solar manufacturing facility, said Kaloyeros, then-head of SUNY’s College of Nanoscale Science & Engineering, which later merged to become SUNY Polytechnic Institute.
The next year, Kaloyeros was back with a new, bolder promise: A $500 million plant for a new power electronics consortium anchored by Sematech and IBM that would bring more than 500 jobs.
And in 2016, another pledge: Two fledgling photonics companies would partner with the state to invest $1.6 billion and create 1,400 jobs in the Rochester area, including the same Canal Ponds facility.
But they were only promises.
Today, the 57,000-sq.-ft. Canal Ponds building sits largely vacant with few, if any, jobs: a symbol of over-promising and under-delivering by Kaloyeros — now awaiting trial on fraud charges — and state leaders that still hope to use SUNY Poly’s massive Albany nanoscience complex as a model for development throughout upstate.