There’s good news for labor in our region: the Rochester Community Coalition has announced its 2015 Priorities for State Investment, and the list includes many projects with construction opportunities. The Community Coalition is a group of leaders representing business, government, education, labor and nonprofits convened by the Rochester Business Alliance in an effort to provide one unified voice for our region. Joe Leone of UNICON and Dave Young of the Rochester Building & Construction Trades Council represent labor for the Community Coalition.
Other representatives include RBA President Bob Duffy, Rochester Mayor Lovely Warren, Monroe County Executive Maggie Brooks, U of R president Joel Seligman, RIT president William Destler, Leone, Young and other important leaders in the community. Each year, this Coalition delivers its agenda to our state legislative delegation and because the group is filled with influential people, its message is likely to be well-received by decision-makers. Together, Leone and Young advocated for projects that are not only crucial to the development of our community, but will also provide much-needed jobs to local construction workers.
Under its “Investing in Infrastructure” category, the Community Coalition highlights the NYS 390/490 Interchange project. The group says they support a $157 million investment for a redesign of the 390/490/Lyell Ave interchange to update this failing highway and increase traffic capacity and safety. NYSDOT data shows that the 200,000 vehicles that use this interchange every day is equivalent to the volume of traffic carried by the Brooklyn and Manhattan Bridges combined or 50% more traffic than the Tappan-Zee Bridge. Investing in this infrastructure is critically important to the future development of Eastman Business Park, Rochester Technology Park, and the STAMP project.
Other infrastructure projects on the agenda were chosen with the intent of building on Rochester’s strengths and boosting our tourism industry. These include a remodel / addition to the Joseph A. Floreano Rochester Riverside Convention Center ($100 million), which has demonstrated a need for modernization and additional square footage; the Blue Cross Arena ($37.5 million), which was last renovated in 1998; the Broad Street Aqueduct ($25 million), which would convert the interior of this very unique aqueduct into a two-level retail space; Frontier Field Modernization ($13 million); and Seneca Park Zoo Tropical Exhibit ($38 million).
The Community Coalition highlighted a few other projects worth mentioning. Under their “Creating Jobs Through Innovation” category, they advocated for the Rochester Institute of Technology MAGIC Center, which would require new facilities; the University of Rochester Institute for Data Science; and the Integrated Photonics Institute for Manufacturing Innovation. As the Community Coalition pointed out, Rochester stands as a global leader in the photonics, optics, and imaging sectors. These projects will only help to improve that standing and undoubtedly boost economic development in our region.
The Community Coalition also supported the efforts of the Finger Lakes Regional Economic Development Council by highlighting two of its major priorities: Eastman Business Park and Genesee County’s Science Technology and Advanced Manufacturing Park (STAMP). Together, Eastman Business Park and STAMP are projects that could change the face of our region, and they are crucial for our future economic development.
The initiatives outlined in the Community Coalition’s 2015 Agenda are among the most important in our community today. The growth of our region is dependent on the success of these initiatives and on the funding decisions made by our legislators and other state leaders. If our legislators are successful in funding some of the projects mentioned above, it will be a great boost to our economy and will provide jobs for many in the construction industry.