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RBJ 75: Largest employers are geographically diverse

Rochester and Monroe County are home to most of the region’s largest employers, but not all. In fact, nearly one-fifth of the RBJ 75 companies are based in the surrounding counties.

Manufacturing firms continue to be key employers in Ontario County, said Michael Manikowski, executive director of the Ontario County Office of Economic Development.

“While it is not where it once was, the numbers are still very robust,” he said.

Over the years, the county’s long-term strategic plan has been expanded to include tourism-related business, but manufacturing continues to play a big role.

“Our bread and butter is still manufacturing,” Manikowski said. “They are incredibly important (companies) that provide long-term jobs with good benefits.”

The list of top employers outside Monroe County is diverse. In addition to manufacturing firms, these companies can be found in health care, banking and education.

Local economic developers note that these large employers bring benefits that extend beyond simply providing jobs. There are numerous multipliers that come into effect, from having their employees shop near where they work to the companies using local vendors and suppliers.

Finger Lakes Railway, for example, benefits from serving Pactiv Corp. in Canandaigua and Zotos International Inc. in Geneva—two of the county’s largest employers, Manikowski said.

Other key employers in the Rochester region’s outlying areas include the Arc of Livingston-Wyoming in Livingston County and United Memorial Medical Center in Genesee County. And Gunlocke Co. LLC in Steuben County—just outside the geographic scope of the RBJ 75—employs nearly 800 people, most at its plant in Wayland and many of whom come from the Rochester area.

The bulk of RBJ 75 employers found outside of Monroe County, however, are in Ontario and Wayne counties. They include Constellation Brands Inc., Canandaigua National Bank & Trust Co., Clifton Springs Hospital & Clinic and Hobart and William Smith Colleges.

Finger Lakes Health and Finger Lakes Gaming & Racetrack run neck and neck

as the leading employers in Ontario County. The 660-bed health system consists of two hospitals, including Geneva General, four long-term care facilities and primary-care centers throughout Ontario, Seneca, Wayne and Yates counties. In total, the

organization employs 1,713 workers, with 1,645 in the six-county region.

Patrick Boyle, vice president of human resources for Finger Lakes Health, said roughly 40 percent of the workforce lives in Ontario County; 20 percent each comes from Seneca and Yates counties; 7 percent is from Wayne County and roughly 5 percent is from Monroe County. Positions range from medical professionals to staff performing office functions and working in food services.

Boyle describes growth at the health system as slow and steady, noting that health care has been an economic driver across the country. Over the past few years, he estimated, the health system has filled hundreds of positions, and it processes upwards of 4,000 applications annually.

Boyle is not surprised that health care is a big employer and added that the organization makes an effort to source services and goods in the counties where it is located.

“We do a good job of providing employment opportunities and economic contributions in the communities we operate in,” he said.

Finger Lakes Gaming & Racetrack in Farmington, owned by Buffalo-based Delaware North Co. Inc., has 1,657 employees. The site pulls workers from Canandaigua, Geneva, Wayne County and other parts of the Finger Lakes region. Some 20 to 25 percent of the workforce comes from Monroe County.

The 30,000-square-foot facility includes more than 1,500 video gambling machines and offers live thoroughbred horse racing from mid-April through early December. Last year, the facility completed a $12 million expansion that added more video lottery terminals, a new restaurant and a bar and lounge.

Chris Riegle, FLGR president and general manager, said the facility’s impact on the local economy extends beyond the workforce.

The business has contributed some $14.5 million in property, school and sales tax revenue and is estimated to have a total economic impact of $120 million annually. The facility also has provided millions of dollars in education funding in the state, he said.

The site, close to the New York State Thruway and Route 96, draws nearly 2 million people annually.

Riegle also likes doing business with town and county officials, noting that they are easy to work with and want to help the facility succeed and grow.

Like Ontario County, Wayne County also has its share of large manufacturers. Its biggest employers include Exelon Corp., owner of the R.E. Ginna Nuclear Power Plant; Garlock Sealing Technologies LLC, a deconsolidated subsidiary of EnPro Industries Inc.; IEC Electronics Corp.; and Parker Hannifin Corp.

Margaret Churchill, executive director of the Wayne County Economic Development Corp., said the top employers not only provide jobs to Wayne County residents, but they also draw people from surrounding counties.

“They are very important, not only to Wayne County but to the region,” she said.

Churchill foresees continued growth for Wayne County’s top employers, as well as strides for smaller firms in fields such as optics and agribusiness.

The county has a number of small and midsize optics firms, particularly at the Beh Industrial Park in Ontario. Lake Road in the towns of Huron, Sodus and Wolcott is seeing growth in cold storage facilities for crops such as apples, she said.

Health care is a job generator in Wayne County, with Newark-Wayne Community Hospital being a large employer there.

High-quality health care is crucial to attracting companies and having a solid workforce, Churchill said.

The local hospital, now part of the health system created by the recent merger of Rochester General Health System and Unity Health, is able to provide good care in the county with access to technology and procedures one might expect only in the city.

“Health care is truly one of our top assets,” Churchill said. “It brings companies here and helps keep companies here.”

7/25/14 RBJ 75 (c) 2014 Rochester Business Journal. To obtain permission to reprint this article, call 585-546-8303 or email [email protected]

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