This is the way things should work: With a cloud of uncertainty caused by Eastman Kodak Co.'s bankruptcy hanging over the nearly three dozen companies now located at Eastman Business Park, state and local officials worked with Kodak to forge a solution.
The result was the agreement announced two weeks ago that addresses environmental and operational concerns at the 1,200-acre complex. The deal creates a framework for resolving a range of issues that could jeopardize the 6,000 jobs now at the business park-not to mention those that might locate there in the future.
The agreement, which requires bankruptcy court approval, has a trio of key provisions. First, it establishes a $49 million environmental trust fund managed by the state Department of Environmental Conservation and funded entirely by Kodak. The trust fund gives Kodak, along with current and prospective EBP property owners protection from liabilities due to past pollution, while providing for ongoing remediation.
Another provision authorizes Recycled Energy Development to assume ownership and operating responsibilities for all utilities at the business park. The Illinois-based firm intends to continue supplying electricity, steam, water, refrigeration, compressed air, and nitrogen and treating wastewater for the business park's property owners and tenants.
The third key element of the agreement calls for Kodak to maintain important operations at the business park. These include a range of advanced manufacturing operations as well as the Kodak Technical Center, the company's top advanced-technology research and development facility.
Together, these provisions address a clear, significant local concern-indeed, securing Eastman Business Park's future ranks as the Finger Lakes Regional Economic Development Council's top priority.
The agreement stands in contrast to Gov. Andrew Cuomo's much-ballyhooed Start-Up NY legislation, which even with its 11th-hour name change and minor revisions remains an attempt to spur economic development by playing favorites. It is driven less by need than by theory-one hatched in Albany, not the marketplace.
The EBP agreement might not have a catchy name, but with common sense on its side, it hardly needs one.
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