Rep. Slaughter tries to sell Amazon reps on bringing 2nd HQ to Rochester

September 13, 2017 11:22 PM

Amazon announced last week it's looking for a city to locate its second U.S. headquarters -- promising to create tens of thousands of new jobs.

Officials in Rochester, along with many other cities across the country, are making every push to lure the retail giant from every angle possible.

Wednesday morning, Congresswoman Louise Slaughter told a group of business leaders, including Amazon reps, that Rochester has become a national photonics hub. But some wonder if this is the most effective way to sell the Flour City.

While local leaders are working on a presentation to Amazon, Congresswoman Louise Slaughter pitched Rochester and AIM Photonics at a conference in D.C.

Representatives from a number of companies including Amazon, Boeing, Microsoft and the federal departments of defense and energy were there. But Gates Supervisor Mark Assini, who ran against Slaughter for her 25th district seat, says Rochester questions the wisdom of selling photonics.

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"Let's focus on our strengths," Assini says. "We shouldn't be talking about, in my estimate, a failed photonics effort especially one that involves indictments, tens of millions of dollars spent and nobody knows where it went and thousands of jobs promised that haven't materialized."

Assini points to the AIM Photonics website as an example. It shows a total of five photonics-related job openings. But Paul Ballantine sees it differently. Ballentine is the producer of the Light and Sound Interactive Conference that's in Rochester this week. He was on the ground floor of bringing AIM Photonics to Rochester and says it's alive and well.

Ballentine says, "The idea is that AIM Photonics and our technology, our optics, manufacturers have laid a foundation to enable systems companies and these systems companies and we have some here already. Both have technology that of interest in Amazon."

Ballentine says this is a slow but steady process but says things are happening at AIM Photonics. He says the companies and the jobs will come.


Lynette Adams

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