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Majority expresses optimism about Rochester’s future

Most respondents to this week’s RBJ Daily Report Snap Poll say they are optimistic about the city of Rochester’s future.

Some 15 percent describe themselves as very optimistic, and 44 percent say they are somewhat optimistic. Ten percent say they are not at all optimistic. Nearly one-third of respondents are somewhat hopeful.

With the theme "One City, One Future," the city of Rochester is celebrating its 175th anniversary this year-using the occasion to reflect on its history as well as to develop a vision for its future.

More than 615 readers participated in this week’s poll, which was conducted Oct. 5 and 6.

How optimistic are you about the city of Rochester’s future?
Very optimistic: 15%
Somewhat optimistic: 44%
Not very optimistic: 31%
Not at all optimistic: 10%

There is a national trend of movement back into cities, and we are beginning to see that here with the growth in downtown, the South Wedge and the Neighborhood of the Arts. This is a tremendous economic force that we should be encouraging and harnessing. Our biggest challenge is in creating a vision for the city that we can all stand behind and in seeing the kind of unified leadership necessary to move it forward. As a result, we find ourselves reacting to crises and individual projects and are unable to respond effectively to capture opportunities that arise.
-Heidi Zimmer-Meyer, president, Rochester Downtown Development Corp.

Our biggest challenge is keeping manufacturing in Rochester, and that is also our greatest opportunity.
-David DeMallie

I am more optimistic about high-tech business than about the future of the inner city. Poverty, drugs and crime are tough issues that seem to defy solutions.
-Germaine Knapp

Challenge is lack of growth-both employment and population. Opportunity is to reinvent downtown.
-Jim Haefner, Pittsford

The biggest challenge is the availability of decent-paying jobs. Many of the corporations that provided fair income opportunities are continually downsizing or leaving the area altogether. The greatest opportunity is the availability of higher learning institutions such as RIT, St. John Fisher and the University of Rochester.
-Garret Arcoraci, Xerox Corp.

Rochester’s greatest opportunity is the unique collection of talent here, from larger businesses such as Kodak, Xerox and Frontier to the innovative and hard-working local small-business owners. Also, we possess a wealth of knowledge at our hospitals and at world-class colleges such as UR, RIT and other local educational facilities. We have incredible potential as a community. Our opportunity is also our challenge, and that is to pull together all of these resources into a focused strategic plan toward future growth and community development.
-Marty Kesel,
Frontier Communications Inc.

The biggest challenge is changing residents’ negative perception about the region. The greatest opportunity is expanding the Midtown Plaza site downtown. Xerox, Frontier and Chase bank have all announced multibillion-dollar acquisitions. Our leaders should try to do all they can to ensure that these companies also rise on the Midtown tower site.
-Brian Stiehler, Penn State University

The biggest challenge to our city is the education of our city youth. The greatest opportunity, downtown development.
-Tim Judd, Rochester schoolteacher


(c) 2009 Rochester Business Journal. Obtain permission to reprint this article.


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