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Views from the Top: Rochester’s outlook

How do you personally feel about the prospects for the Rochester-area economy over the next three years?

Rochester is rich in entrepreneurial spirit and intelligence. As some industries, markets and major employers decline, new companies with new ideas and technologies emerge. This is a natural, healthy cycle and creates opportunities for those service firms that have the energy to serve the new, fast-evolving organizations.
—John Nichols, Nichols Construction Team

With the impressive skilled workforce that exists here, and its high level of education, we can’t help but be very optimistic about Rochester. Nearly all of our recruiting is done locally, and we intend to be a part of this community’s success well into the future.
—Donna Shultz, Mirror Show Management

The Greater Rochester area has a lot of things going for it. Great talent, a history of innovation, a solid cadre of small to midsized businesses. We need to spend our energy discussing how/why the area will continue to prosper rather than wasting our time trying to find all the reasons why we can’t be successful.
—Samuel Villanti, UTC Retail

The development projects for downtown are very promising, but we have to work harder at reducing crime. We don’t want people to avoid our city due to fear for their safety.
—David Wolf, Just Solutions Inc.

Recent trends in making it easier to do business in Upstate New York should lead to economic growth.
—Dawn Smith, Pace Electronic Products

New York State business taxes will continue to drive economic activity away from Rochester.
—Joe Fee, Fee Brothers Inc.

I believe a key driver for our local economy will be the successful development of a lively and thriving downtown. It cannot come soon enough. I also think in Rochester, with our fantastic design education facilities such as at RIT, we should groom ourselves to be become a national center of design excellence.
—Katrina Beatty, ID Signsystems Inc.

Look at where population and jobs are going (Texas, Florida, South Carolina, Alabama, Georgia, North Carolina). We need to revamp our tax structure and cut regulations in every direction.  People want to leave New York!
—Richard Dorschel, The Dorschel Automotive Group

I see positive signs in the local economy. We need to continue to revitalize downtown. COMIDA projects have been very helpful and should continue. Good skilled labor is an ongoing issue. We need more focus on teaching skilled trades at the high school level.
—Michael Grant, Tele Data Com Inc.

Rochester is blessed with many excellent manufacturing companies. We are committed to doing everything we can to help these companies grow and prosper. This is a key to our region’s future.
—Don Waltzer, H&C Tool Supply Corp.

It’s tough to comment on. By comparison to other markets, we generate very little local business. For as long as I can remember Rochester has never been a hot spot for growth or contraction.
—Eric Elwell, 2TouchPOS

Our heavy tax/fee burden hurts not only businesses, but also our employees. Reduce/eliminate the state programs and lower taxes—(that) would benefit everyone for the long term.
—Joseph Burke, Vanteon Corp.

The concentration of technical talent, solid management experience and progressive educational institutes, further supported by state and local startup initiatives, paint a bright picture for the Rochester/Finger Lakes region. Couple this with it being such a great place to live, and it can’t help but shine.
—Ed Maguire, cheribundi Inc.

I don’t necessarily see lots of growth in the local economy, but Rochester’s economy is steady and has lots of opportunity as long as you have a product or service that is in demand. We must continue to improve our services to ensure we continue to increase market share.
—Michael Fowler, Capstone Information Technologies Inc.

I see no signs of economic optimism. New York State has a number of political, regulatory and tax-related issues that severely impede our ability to succeed. These challenges tend to choke the life out of any economic growth.
—J. Daniel Ayer, Custom Courier Solutions Inc.

The national and local economies are facing tough conditions and will continue to do so. We are in an environment where a total focus on client needs and having an efficient delivery system is necessary to compete. How well we do that as a community will determine how well our economy does relative to the national average.
—Robert Judd, Beltz Ianni & Associates LLC

I am very optimistic for the following reasons: 1. great schools: RIT, U of R, and SUNY system of universities helping build local talent required for engineering and sciences, and 2. dedicated workforce. Flip side, not so much help from state or town to help small companies in taxes and credits; that’s disappointing.
—Sameer Penakalapati, Avani Technology Solutions Inc.

We see Rochester as a stable area to do business. Our services are often tied to the construction industry. We enjoy being part of the development and redevelopment process. Our involvement in the rebuilding of Upstate New York and beyond is very gratifying and makes us proud of our work and our people.
—Mark Costich, Costich Engineering, Land Surveying and Landscape Architecture P.C.

New York State is a progressive state and as a result they are on the cutting edge of regulation. It is clear that state officials have looked to regulating entities as new revenue streams. While our firm has no consumer complaints, we are subjected to audits by several different state entities. Without exception, every audit results in a fine of some sort that we routinely pay as it would be more costly to fight. New York claims to be business-friendly, but our experience has been exactly the opposite.
—Michael Donoghue, Premium Mortgage Corp.

Our geographic reach is a key component of our success.
—Thomas Judson, The Pike Cos.

10/31/14 (c) 2014 Rochester Top 100 supplement. Rochester Business Journal. To obtain permission to reprint this article, call 585-546-8303 or email rbj@rbj.net.

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