EBP energy supplier acquired

The district energy system that serves more than 100 commercial and industrial customers and 5,500 employees at Eastman Business Park has been acquired for $260 million.

Ironclad Energy Partners LLC, an affiliate of Stonepeak Infrastructure Partners, has agreed to sell 100 percent of its indirect equity interests in RED-Rochester LLC and affiliates to SDCL Energy Efficiency Income Trust (SEEIT) plc.

RED is one of the nation’s largest district energy systems and it has continuously served the 1,200-acre EBP and its customers with their utility needs for more than a century. RED serves customers with its efficient and environmentally friendly tri-generation plant, delivering 16 different utility services including steam, chilled water, electricity and more.

“As a New York-based asset manager, Stonepeak is pleased to have had the opportunity to support a successful transition of the RED assets and to meaningfully contribute to the ongoing revitalization of the Finger Lakes Region of New York,” said Stonepeak Senior Managing Director Luke Taylor in a statement. “We are confident that the new owners will continue our efforts to drive environmentally-conscious growth within the Eastman Business Park.”

Upon acquisition in 2016, Stonepeak and Ironclad committed roughly $80 million of additional capital to execute on the conversion of RED’s coal-fired central plant to modern natural gas boilers. The brownfield project was delivered in 18 months, on time and on budget and without disruption to customers, officials noted. Following the completion of the natural gas conversion, Stonepeak and Ironclad committed additional capital to further modernize RED’s facilities, completing more than 40 efficiency projects during the four-year ownership period, and identifying more than 100 additional projects for future execution.

Through executed and identified projects, RED is expected to reduce carbon dioxide emissions within EBP by the equivalent of an 880MW photovoltaic solar installation and will reduce sulfur dioxide and NOx emissions by roughly 99 percent and 60 percent, respectively. SDCL expects to continue the modernization and efficiency efforts under its ownership, which are expected to continue delivering both increased profitability and emissions savings via fuel usage reduction.

“SEEIT is acquiring an operational and established district energy system that provides a range of essential and efficient energy services and utilities to a diversified customer base on one of the largest business parks in the United States of America,” said Jonathan Maxwell, founding partner and CEO of SDCL. “We expect the project to make positive contributions to SEEIT’s earnings and cash flow. At the same time, the project offers the potential for growth over the medium to long term through the addition of new customers and the implementation of accretive energy efficiency measures.”

The transaction is expected to close in the second quarter of 2021, following receipt of customary regulatory approvals.

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Carestream to expand operations at Eastman Business Park

Medical imaging systems and non-destructive testing company Carestream plans to expand its film finishing operations at Eastman Business Park. The company has committed to creating up to 70 new jobs over the next five years while retaining 47 jobs.

The first phase of the project will include an additional 16,000 square feet of space at Carestream’s current location, with the potential for further expansion opportunities. Additional upgrades will include the purchase of new machinery and support upgrades to the buildings’ utility infrastructure, dark rooms, packaging lines and the addition of a new wet lab.

Empire State Development will provide up to $700,000 in Excelsior Tax Credits in exchange for job creation commitments. The total project cost has been placed at roughly $3 million. Renovation work is expected to begin in May and be completed in the second quarter of 2022. Monroe County, the city of Rochester and Greater Rochester Enterprise Inc. also will assist with the project.

“Carestream continues to be a leader in the medical and dental film markets. We are excited to be able to grow our team and invest in the Rochester area,” said Carestream Chairman, President and CEO David Westgate. “Our team’s innovation and enthusiasm are a testament to Carestream’s dedication to providing the best products in our market segments. Carestream continues to march forward toward a strong, successful future.”

Last fall, Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced that Carestream would help in the fight against COVID-19 by investing more than $1.67 million to manufacture135,000 face shields. The CARESTREAM Shield is being manufactured in Rochester and is available for purchase from select distributors and Amazon. The company was awarded $750,000 in grant funds from the state to help alleviate product shortages due to supply chain issues.

“This investment into Eastman Business Park will not only create jobs but continues to expand on the revitalization efforts in a much-needed part of our community,” said state Sen. Jeremy Cooney, D-Greece. “We appreciate the work of Carestream and Empire State Development for their support of this critical project.”

Carestream’s expansion builds on the success of EBP, the site where Eastman Kodak Co. began manufacturing photographic film and paper more than a century ago. The campus continues to be repurposed, and today supports nearly114 companies, employing more than 6,000 people. In addition to Carestream, LiDestri Food and Drink, Kodak, DuPont, L3 Harris, Columbia Care, Ortho Clinical Diagnostics, Love Beets, Li-Cycle and Acquest Development are among several companies operating at the business campus.

“Kodak built Eastman Business Park to manufacture film and as such we heartily welcome Carestream’s new film manufacturing operation to the site. The infrastructure here provides an ideal environment for making film, but it is also useful for a wide range of innovative high-tech manufacturing approaches,” said EBP President and Kodak CFO David Bullwinkle. “We are pleased to support Carestream’s efforts to support job growth into Rochester at Eastman Business Park.”

With 1,282 patents granted worldwide, Carestream is a worldwide provider of medical imaging systems; X-ray imaging systems for non-destructive testing; and precision contract coating services for a wide range of industrial, medical, electronic and other applications — all backed by a global service and support network. Carestream employs close to 700 workers statewide.

[email protected]/585-653-4021

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ON Semiconductor site sale complete

FabExchange, a private equity and divestiture partner, has completed the acquisition of ON Semiconductor’s Eastman Business Park location. Financial details of the acquisition were not disclosed.

Marketplace shifts led to the decision to discontinue the production of the CCD image sensor, ultimately resulting in the closure of the Rochester site. ON Semiconductor had announced layoffs at the site in 2019, just two years after opening, but last year filed a Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notice stating it would close the facility. More than 130 jobs were lost in the downsizing and closure.

The site at EBP primarily was focused on the development of image sensor tech, from medical and scientific imaging to commercial, surveillance and traffic monitoring. At the time of the company’s downsizing, corporate communications manager Sarah Rockey said it was driven primarily by the reduction of the charge-coupled device (CCD) imaging sector.

ON Semiconductor was approved to receive nearly $2 million in funding from Empire State Development when the company expanded to EBP, but no funds were ever requested or received. The company completed a $6.6 million expansion at its EBP facility in 2018 that was expected to have added more than 30 jobs.

FabExchange officials in a statement this week said the company partnered with ON Semiconductor, local and international partners to facilitate the divestiture “effectively, efficiently and faultlessly,” with a focus on maximizing future employment opportunities locally. They also noted that industry analysts believe that this acquisition is a win-win for both companies, as well as the city of Rochester. A core objective for FabExchange is to serve as a bridge for international companies wishing to invest in manufacturing in the U.S.

The property originally was constructed by Eastman Kodak Co. in 1959 and expanded in 1980. The building core is made up of dedicated lab space, cleanroom and surrounding office space. With space totaling 263,000 square feet, inclusive of seven floors and a basement, the building is designed for wafer fabrication, assembly, testing and office space.

“When acquiring facilities such as this, renovation and creative reconfiguration is almost always required. However, this facility is ready and primed for use by wafer fabs for MEMS, CMOS, CCD and DRAM, and compound semiconductors production,” said FabExchange Managing Partner Ali Shafi. “We have a few clients showing interest in this facility generating great momentum, setting the stage for an exciting future for this property.”

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Rochester could be home to new gigafactory

Rochester could be the new home of Plug Power Inc.’s new “gigafactory,” according to a statement from U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer last week.

But Plug Power officials will neither confirm nor deny the assertion. A company representative said in an email Tuesday that the Albany-area provider of modern hydrogen and fuel cell technology has chosen a location for the factory but declined to say where that site is.

If Rochester is chosen it would mean 375 or more jobs in the region, Schumer (D-N.Y.) said.

“I am ecstatic to say that Plug Power will be plugging into Rochester as the home for its new hydrogen fuel cell ‘gigafactory’ that will rev up Rochester with over 375 new good-paying clean energy jobs,” Schumer said in last week’s statement. “I made the case to Plug Power CEO Andrew Marsh that the Rochester region’s powerhouse workforce, along with New York’s excellent package, was the spark needed to drive its exciting and cutting-edge hydrogen fuel cell technology to new heights. I applaud Plug Power for heeding my call and fully expect the new ‘gigafactory’ to open in Rochester by mid-2021, powered by hundreds of Rochester workers.”

In November, Schumer reached out to Marsh to express his support for the company’s interest in locating its new factory in New York state. At the time, Plug Power was considering sites in New York and another state for its hydrogen fuel cell component manufacturing plant the company plans to open this year.

“Plug Power’s deep history, investments and nearly 400-member existing New York workforce in the state make New York an ideal place for the company’s continued growth and leadership in green hydrogen fuel cell development and manufacturing,” Schumer said in a Nov. 17 statement. “Our world-class New York workforce is eager to get to work, and with its considerable capabilities for fuel cell manufacturing and development is tailor-made to help drive Plug Power’s new hydrogen fuel cell gigafactory.”

Plug Power was founded in 1997 and is headquartered in Latham, Albany County. The company employs roughly 400 people in New York, including 70 in its Rochester manufacturing site. In 2019, the company completed its nearly $4 million expansion in Rochester. The move came less than a year after the opening of Plug Power’s Eastman Business Park facility. Its Rochester facilities include engineering and administrative offices, research and development laboratory space and a warehouse location.

The new gigafactory will be an up to 200,000-square-foot factory that will produce hydrogen electrolyzers used for the production of hydrogen fuel and to make hydrogen PEM fuel cells used to produce electricity to power equipment. Plug Power has sold some 40,000 fuel cell systems to customers including Amazon, BMW, Walmart and more.

The gigafactory will include research and development laboratories, in addition to defect detection equipment and automated systems to assemble fuel cells and hydrogen electrolyzers, Schumer said in his November statement.

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Li-Cycle EBP facility up and running

Li-Cycle's Rochester "spoke" is operational. In this photo, a module is being unloaded at the Eastman Business Park facility. (photo provided)
Li-Cycle’s Rochester “spoke” is operational. In this photo, a module is being unloaded at the Eastman Business Park facility. (photo provided)

Canadian lithium-ion battery recycler Li-Cycle Corp. has completed its Rochester “spoke” facility, its largest capacity recycling facility in North America.

The Eastman Business Park facility will produce an intermediate mixed battery material product known as “black mass” from all types of spent lithium-ion batteries. The facility, the second “spoke” for the company, has the capacity to process up to 5,000 tons of spent lithium-ion batteries per year, which brings Li-Cycle’s total recycling capacity to 10,000 tons per year through its two North American spokes.

Ajay Kochhar
Ajay Kochhar

“This is a crucial step in scaling Li-Cycle’s technology and creating a strong foundation for the circular supply chain for lithium-ion batteries in a world where increased electrification is needed to combat climate change,” said Li-Cycle CEO Ajay Kochhtar in a statement. “Our goal is to better manage end-of-life lithium-ion batteries in order to meet the increasing demand for critical battery materials by creating a local source for these materials in North America.”

Li-Cycle was founded in 2016 in Toronto with the vision of solving the global end-of-life lithium-ion battery problem and creating a secondary supply to meet the demand for critical battery materials through innovative recycling technology. Historically, most lithium-ion battery recycling processes have treated the product as waste and a liability.

The company uses an innovative spoke and hub process wherein batteries are shipped to an initial spoke location, where the materials are mechanically processed. The material then is transported to a second hub location where the intermediate product from the spoke is put through a hydrometallurgical, or wet chemistry, process. The resulting components are then returned to their original, battery-grade chemical states for reintegration into the lithium-ion battery supply chain.

Both spokes will supply black mass to Li-Cycle’s future hub, which will be constructed at Eastman Business Park by 2022. The hub will process black mass in order to produce critical, battery-grade materials from recycled sources, as well as other recycled materials that can be returned to the economy.

Li-Cycle recently closed a Series C equity funding round to fund this development and to drive expansion into international markets.

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Battery company to invest $175 million at EBP, create 100 jobs

Canadian battery recovery company Li-Cycle Corp. plans to invest $175 million in its lithium-ion battery recycling hub at Eastman Business Park, creating more than 100 jobs in the process.

In January 2020, Empire State Development said Li-Cycle would establish its first U.S.-based spoke facility in Rochester in an effort to tap into the robust lithium-ion battery supply chain and ecosystem. That announcement came with a $23.3 million investment by Li-Cycle and assistance from Empire State Development of up to $450,000 through the Excelsior Jobs Program. The County of Monroe and Greater Rochester Enterprise Inc. also are assisting with the project.

“This international partnership with Li-Cycle will foster the supply chain of lithium-ion batteries, which are in high demand, and will further expand the thriving energy storage industry in the region,” Gov. Andrew Cuomo said in a statement. “By investing in New York’s cleantech economy we are creating quality jobs and supporting our state’s clean energy businesses as we build back stronger from the COVID crisis and continue to move the Finger Lakes forward.”

Li-Cycle’s “spoke” and “hub” operations will complement each other. There will be several U.S.-based spokes that aggregate and refine spent, lithium-ion batteries so that the materials are separated and can be made into products. Rochester’s Li-Cycle spoke, due to open this Fall, will be capable of shredding up to 5,000 tons per year of spent lithium-ion batteries.

Ultimately, the hub operation in Rochester will receive battery materials from the Rochester spoke and similar operations across the U.S., and process them further for use as raw materials in future manufacturing, including for new batteries. ESD is assisting Li-Cycle with up to $5 million through the Excelsior Jobs Tax Credit Program once the business starts meeting new employment commitments. Monroe County and Greater Rochester Enterprise are also assisting with the project.

“We are excited to be able to announce Rochester as the location of Li-Cycle’s first commercial Hub refinery. This facility will enable sustainable close-loop production of critical materials for the battery industry, such as cobalt, nickel and lithium, right here in North America supporting the development of electric vehicles and other sustainable energy applications. We deeply appreciate the continued support of the local community, government agencies and Kodak in the development of this project,” said Li-Cycle Executive Chairman and Co-Founder Tim Johnston.

Founded in 2016 in Ontario, Canada, Li-Cycle has developed and validated a unique process that allows it to recover 80 percent to 100 percent of all materials found in lithium-ion batteries while maintaining no wastewater discharge and actualizing the company’s zero-waste philosophy. All materials that are recovered from lithium-ion batteries are either processed to the point of being reusable in battery production, reusable in other applications or sent for further processing to other recyclers to ensure all materials generated are being returned to the economy.

“The planned Li-Cycle Hub project is a perfect fit for Eastman Business Park and Rochester. The Hub project needs the vast resources of the park, including the utilities provided by RED-Rochester and the rail, security, risk and facilities management services provided by Kodak. The new jobs created by the proposed project will, directly and indirectly, benefit the Rochester area,” said EBP President and Eastman Kodak Co. CFO Dave Bullwinkle.

Li-Cycle selected Eastman Business Park after determining it was the best location for the company to quickly develop the Hub by leveraging existing infrastructure at the park and provide services to its growing client base across the U.S. and beyond.

“Our investment in Li-Cycle’s lithium-ion battery recycling facility at Eastman Business Park represents our continued commitment not only to this company but in broader economic opportunities within the sustainable energy industry. This forward-thinking project will add high-quality jobs in the Finger Lakes region and advance our efforts to establish New York state as a world leader in energy storage,” said ESD Acting Commissioner and President & CEO-designate Eric Gertler.

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Biosciences company to construct $17 million plant at Eastman Business Park

Bio-performance company GreenLight Biosciences Inc. plans to construct a pilot plant at a building at Eastman Business Park (EBP). The project will create up to 30 jobs that will support the production of GreenLight’s ribonucleic acid-based solutions for the agriculture and healthcare industries.

Empire State Development will support the project with up to $600,000 through the Excelsior Jobs Program in exchange for job creation commitments. The total project cost is estimated at $16.6 million. Monroe County and Greater Rochester Enterprise Inc. also assisted with the project.

“New York State’s strategic investments help position cutting-edge science for commercialization and economic growth,” said Eric Gertler, ESD acting commissioner, president and CEO-designate. “GreenLight Biosciences and its partners are working to create the next generation of environmentally innovative products, which will create jobs and drive economic activity in Rochester and throughout the region.”

The plant will enable GreenLight to bring its cell-free biomanufacturing process, GreenWorX, to market in order to produce low-cost, high-quality RNA. The production of RNA through GreenWorX will help farmers grow food in a way that is natural and safe by targeting specific pests without harming other species or the environment.

GreenLight’s innovations also can be used to hasten the discovery and commercialization of vaccines and antibody therapies, officials noted. Founded in 2009, GreenLight Biosciences is headquartered in Medford, Mass., and its research and development efforts are located at Research Triangle Park in North Carolina.

“We are disrupting the industry by bringing nature and technology together to develop sustainable, precise biocontrol solutions, and it’s critical that we continue to build a workforce that can carry these innovations forward,” said GreenLight’s Chief Operating Officer Carole Cobb in a statement. “Eastman Business Park is particularly attractive to us because of the access to talented scientists and manufacturing experts in the Rochester area as well as the extensive infrastructure and capabilities of EBP.”

EBP, where Eastman Kodak Co. began manufacturing photographic film and paper more than a century ago, is being reinvigorated. The campus supports more than 114 companies employing  6,000 people. EBP is home to Kodak operations and to companies such as DuPont Nutrition & Health, Plug Power Inc., BEST Test and Commercialization Center, LiDestri Foods Inc. and Clearwater Organic Farms LLC, among others.

“Greenlight Biosciences is another perfect fit for the growing family of innovative companies making their way to Eastman Business Park. EBP’s formula is working and we’re giving our full support to their efforts to bring new industry, investment, and jobs to the area,” said Greece Town Supervisor Bill Reilich. “Greenlight Biosciences is working to bolster the food and beverage and health care industries, which are among the fastest-growing industries in Greece and our neighboring communities. This kind of complementary growth couples EBP’s industrial infrastructure and our skilled workforce, which is a recipe for success. We’ll continue working with economic development partners and prioritizing permits and approvals necessary to bring this project and others like it to fruition.”

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Canadian battery recovery company coming to Eastman Business Park

A Canadian battery recovery company plans to set up operations at Eastman Business Park, creating roughly two-dozen jobs in its first year of operation.

Li-Cycle Corp., a North American lithium-ion battery resource recovery company, will establish its first U.S.-based facility in northern Monroe County. EBP was selected as the best location to serve the company’s client base in the South and Midwest.

In exchange for job commitments of at least 23 jobs in its first year, Li-Cycle will receive assistance from Empire State Development of up to $450,000 through the Excelsior Jobs Program. The County of Monroe and Greater Rochester Enterprise Inc. also are assisting with the project.

The total project cost is expected to be $23.3 million over a three-year period, but Li-Cycle said it expects the facility to be fully operational later this year.

“As the United States and world enter an unprecedented phase of growth for electric vehicles and electro-mobility, rechargeable lithium-ion batteries and the critical materials within them are crucial for the industry’s success,” said Li-Cycle CEO and Co-founder Ajay Kochhar in a statement Tuesday. “The facility will foster the development of closed-loop lithium-ion battery resource recovery in the State of New York and the broader United States market. In turn, we are pleased to support the creation of high-quality jobs in the Finger Lakes region and look forward to our continued growth in the EBP.”

Li-Cycle was founded in 2016 and was awarded a grant through Sustainable Development Technology Canada to construct a demonstration facility. With that facility functional, the company has undertaken the first phase of its commercialization process at EBP.

Initially, Li-Cycle will occupy 57,000 square feet of a pre-existing process building and is considering additional phases for the project in the coming years, officials said.

“The economy of the future will be grounded in innovation and sustainability, qualities embodied by Li-Cycle,” said Monroe County Executive Adam Bello. “I’m grateful for its partnership with ESD in bringing its first U.S. based lithium-ion battery recycling center to Eastman Business Park. This is just the latest development to reinforce Monroe County’s expanding role as a home to the emerging technology industry.”

Li-Cycle has developed and validated a process that allows them to recover 80 to 100 percent of all materials found in lithium-ion batteries while maintaining no wastewater discharge and actualizing the company’s zero-waste philosophy. All materials that are recovered from the batteries are either processed to the point of being reusable in battery production, thus closing the loop, or sent for further processing to other recyclers to ensure all materials generated are being returned to the economy. The company is able to process all types of lithium-ion batteries used in electronic devices, e-mobility, electric vehicles and energy storage.

“We welcome Li-Cycle to the energy storage eco-system at Eastman Business Park,” said EBP President and Eastman Kodak Co. CFO Dave Bullwinkle. “Li-Cycle’s battery content recovery operations are the perfect complement to Kodak’s battery coating and cell assembly services and the Best Test & Commercialization Center run by DNV-GL. Li-Cycle joins energy storage tenants including Plug Power, Nohms Technologies, Energy Materials Corp. and Graphenix Development Inc. Li-Cycle operations will take advantage of the amazing utility and service infrastructure available at Eastman Business Park, reducing costs and speeding time to market.”

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Solar cell company gets $4M federal award to scale up

A local company that has been developing a solar panel that can produce more energy and be made more quickly has earned a $4 million award from the U.S. Department of Energy to scale up its technology and process.

Energy Materials Corp., a resident company in the Eastman Business Park, announced the award earlier this month. The company makes high-efficiency solar panels that use both sides to collect solar energy–direct sunlight on the topside and reflected light on the bottom. EMC also uses a roll-to-roll printing process that speeds up production.

“This is a scale-up process,” EMC President Stephan DeLuca said of the award. “We’re taking devices that have been made in the lab and scaling up for production.”

The award from the DOE’s Solar Energy Technology Office would cover three years of research and development work, DeLuca said. The project would result in about 10 additional employees; some would be at EMC’s offices in Rochester and others would be EMC employees working at DOE’s National Renewable Energy Labs in Golden, Colo.  The company also expects to double its lab space at Eastman Business Park, DeLuca said.

Though many of the specifics and timelines are still to be determined or can’t be shared right now, DeLuca said EMC eventually expects to produce 3 to 4 gigawatts of solar panels a year, representing three or four times the production promised by Tesla’s so-called gigafactory in Buffalo.

An advisor to the project, Dave Buemi, who holds the title of chief development officer for ECM but isn’t employed by the company yet, said, “For Rochester and the region, this is a completely new way to do solar module manufacturing that has significant advantages and can lead to large-scale employment. It’s a really nice turn of events for the solar industry and for the Rochester region.”

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Plug Power completes expansion at EBP

Plug Power Inc., an Albany area provider of modern hydrogen and fuel cell technology, has completed its nearly $4 million expansion in Rochester. The move comes less than a year after the opening of the company’s Eastman Business Park facility.

“As CEO of a prominent Upstate New York business, I am delighted that Plug Power has been able to grow its presence in the great city of Rochester,” Plug Power CEO Andy Marsh said in a statement this week.

The company in February announced plans to pump $3.7 million into the former American Fuel Cell facility, which it purchased last June. The expansion was expected to add 80 jobs in Rochester.

The new Rochester facilities include engineering and administrative offices, research and development laboratory space and a warehouse location, officials said this week. The new labs come equipped with cutting-edge technology and ample resources supporting Plug Power’s ongoing efforts to reduce costs, improve durability and develop new materials for its proprietary membrane electrode assembly technology.

The Rochester opening comes at an important time for Plug Power, which recently reported its largest second-quarter in company history. Company officials said Plug Power is on target to be the largest MEA producer in the country by year’s end.

“New York State leadership has been incredibly supportive of the work we’re doing, and the Finger Lakes region has proved itself to be not only rife with incredible talent, but also a wonderful place to live,” Marsh said. “We’re absolutely thrilled to be bringing new job opportunities to an area that has been so instrumental to Plug Power’s growth and continued success in recent years.”

In addition to job opportunities, the Rochester expansion also will serve to facilitate Plug Power’s continued collaboration with area schools such as Rochester Institute of Technology, which the company has partnered with in the past on testing and summer internship opportunities.

Founded in 1997, Plug Power focuses on the design, development, commercialization and manufacture of hydrogen and fuel cell systems.

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Eastman Business Park gets approval for rezoning

They paved paradise and put up a parking lot. But that parking lot could be turned back into a paradise, of sorts, following Tuesday’s unanimous vote by Rochester City Council in favor of rezoning parts of Eastman Business Park.

Subareas 1 and 2, which will be rezoned for work/live/play facilities, are show on this rendering, which was part of a proposal voted on by Rochester City Council Tuesday evening.
Subareas 1 and 2, which will be rezoned for work/live/play facilities, are shown on this rendering, which was part of a proposal voted on by Rochester City Council Tuesday evening.

A proposal by Mayor Lovely Warren brought to City Council in June to rezone EBP Planned Development District #12 into an area that would facilitate the development of a range of mixed residential, nonresidential and recreation uses for the 170-acre site. The proposal passed with an 8-0 vote.

Large portions of the former Kodak Park have remained unused or underused for some time. In her letter to City Council, Warren noted that in 2010, EBP Planned Development District was created to provide flexible regulations that would promote “high employment and economic development and capitalize on extensive on-site utilities and infrastructure.”

Since that time, EBP has filled several sites, primarily with manufacturing facilities.

“Eastman Business Park is transforming (into) an urban-style, mixed-use innovation district, complete with manufacturing, retail, office and residential space,” Warren wrote in her letter. “Already a hub for high-tech industries, the district is becoming an entertainment destination for visitors as a result of continuing investment in the Kodak Center.”

As development continues, she wrote, it is expected more residents will move into the area, “creating a vibrant, thriving and revitalized community.”

The EBP proposal calls for new development that will “frame and enhance” public and private streets and open spaces in the area, including heavily traveled West Ridge Road and Lake Avenue. The goal, according to the proposal, is to transform the streets from “high volume, high speed” roads to balanced spaces that include pedestrian, bicycle and transit amenities.

The proposal suggests a 30 mile per hour speed limit in the area.

A rendering shows the scope of the Eastman Business Park rezoning.
A rendering shows the scope of the Eastman Business Park rezoning.

Eastman Avenue and new, internal streets east of Lake Avenue will be pedestrian-oriented and include decorative street lighting, trees and other elements to create “a public realm welcoming and comfortable to all users.”

Permitted uses of subarea 1 include animal hospitals and daycare, amusement centers, bars and restaurants, adult daycare, hotels, health clubs, museums, light industrial facilities, corporate offices and others.

Subarea 2 includes much of the same but adds single-family and two-family attached homes, as well as multi-family dwellings. All new buildings in both subareas will require a 100-foot distance from a residential district.

A handful of EBP neighbors expressed concerns with the rezoning, in particular, the light industrial portion of the proposal that would replace parking lots. In a letter from the Maplewood Neighborhood Association, President Wayne Williams Jr. wrote that the group did not support the light industrial plan, stating that the neighborhood “has never held industrial properties, and current homeowners bought their properties believing that industrial activity would be solely on the west side of Lake Avenue—across a ‘moat-like’ multi-lane highway.”

During a June 10 City Planning Commission meeting, EBP Vice President of Development Tim Palmer noted his participation in garnering feedback from residents near the proposed development, stating most residents were pleased with the proposal.

“They liked the ideas,” Palmer said during the meeting, “and wanted to see it move from just acres and acres of parking lot, which is what it is today, to something that’s more attractive and useful for everyone down the road.”

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Power producer at Eastman Business Park wins $5 million in state carbon challenge

 The utility company that modernized energy production at the former Kodak Park and turned it away from coal has won $5 million from a carbon-reduction contest run by New York State.

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo announced on Friday that Recycled Energy Development-Rochester LLC, known as RED-Rochester, was one of the two winners in the first round of the Commercial and Industrial Carbon Challenge.

International Paper in Ticonderoga also won $2.8 million for its reduction efforts. The companies have committed to reducing a total of nearly 850,000 tons of carbon in the next 15 years. RED-Rochester installed four natural gas boilers and converted an old coal-fueled boiler to natural gas to curtail carbon emissions while serving business clients at Eastman Business Park.

“Reducing carbon emissions is a critical piece of New York’s comprehensive strategy to combat climate change on all fronts,” Cuomo said. “We are proud to invest in New York companies that are committed to advancing clean energy projects in support of the State’s green economy and path to a carbon-neutral economy.”

According to the New York State Energy Research and Development Agency, commercial and industrial buildings account for 33 percent of energy-related greenhouse gas emissions in New York.

“The Carbon Challenge offers a unique opportunity to simultaneously reduce CO2 and invest in the long-term competitiveness and sustainability of Eastman Business Park,” said RED-Rochester President Craig E. Bennett. “It furthers our commitment to the environment and enhances our ability to attract and retain new industrial customers which create jobs and increases the tax base.”

In the next round of the carbon challenge, NYSERDA is making $15 million available for the competition. The deadline to apply is July 26. Information is available on the NYSERDA website.

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LiDestri to partner on $51 million facility at EBP

LiDestri Foods Inc. is partnering with Crop’s N.V. of Belgium to produce ready-to-eat meals at a new facility at Eastman Business Park. The move is expected to create 123 new full-time jobs in the next five years.

lidestriUp to $4 million for the project is being made available through the Finger Lakes Forward Upstate Revitalization Initiative. Another $4 million also may be provided through the Excelsior Tax Credit Program in exchange for job creation commitments.

The URI capital grant stipulates that $1 million of the $4 million grant is tied to the region’s anti-poverty initiative; the company will have to hire 33 people who meet the eligibility requirements for the Rochester-Monroe Anti-Poverty Initiative.

“We are excited because we are bringing an innovative product from our European partners that not only provides jobs for families but an innovative, on-trend healthy choice for families,” LiDestri Co-president John LiDestri said in a statement Tuesday.

Officials did not disclose the name of the new manufacturing company that will be formed as a result of the partnership, nor when construction would begin or end. The project will help retain 900 jobs at LiDestri’s two locations on Lee Road and in Fairport.

“By investing in innovative projects and partnerships we are growing key industries across the state and creating more jobs for New Yorkers,” Gov. Andrew Cuomo said. “This new partnership will continue to highlight the region’s great agricultural assets and build on the efforts of the regionally designed Finger Lakes Forward plan to reinvigorate communities and generate economic growth across the entire region.”

The $51.3 million project will include the construction of a 65,000-square-foot facility at EBP, as well as the addition of manufacturing lines, a railroad extension and utility upgrades.

“New occupants at Eastman Business Park continue to contribute to its growth,” EBP President and Eastman Kodak Co. CFO David Bullwinkle said. “With almost 110 companies operating in the park today and impressive momentum for new users, we are working to bring in several more in 2019. Eastman Business Park resources are a great fit for food and beverage processing, biopharma and roll-to-roll manufacturing.”

LiDestri was founded in 1975 as Cantisano Foods Inc. and is known for its pasta sauces, dips and salsas. Crop’s N.V. manufactures and distributes frozen food in Europe including fruits and vegetables.

“LiDestri Food and Drink has been a catalyst to the transformation of Eastman Business Park and has become one of our region’s fastest growing employers,” Sen. Joe Robach, R-Greece, said. “This exciting partnership will bring even more jobs to the revitalized Eastman Business Park. As a member of the Finger Lakes Regional Economic Development Council, I am proud to see the state’s investment in this project and significant tax dollars coming back to our community.”

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Eastman Business Park leader to retire

Dolores Kruchten
Dolores Kruchten

Dolores Kruchten, longtime Eastman Kodak Co. staffer and leader of Eastman Business Park,  will retire next month. Kodak CFO Dave Bullwinkle will assume responsibility for EBP and Kodak Corporate Real Estate at that time.

During her 36-year career as a senior executive at Kodak, Kruchten accomplished a number of things, officials said, most recently leveraging the unique qualities of EBP as an ideal location for manufacturers in the chemical processing, biopharma, food and beverage processing, plastics, photonics and energy storage spaces.

“We appreciate the many accomplishments and contributions Dolores brought to Eastman Business Park,” Kodak CEO Jeff Clarke said in a statement. “We look forward to continuing to leverage this important asset to our company and the Greater Rochester area.”

Over the last three years, Kruchten grew the number of companies operating in the park by 25 percent, and nearly 50 active opportunities. The Kodak Center is being revitalized with a new marquee, dozens of national acts and a new Kodak Experience Center opening Dec. 6.

“Eastman Business Park is on a strong growth path today; new buildings are going up for the first time in decades,” Kruchten said. “The face of the area is changing for the good and I am very pleased to have had a chance to contribute to the revitalization of this great asset to the Greater Rochester area, to New York State and to the country.”

Bullwinkle, a strong supporter of the park and the work undertaken to date, said Kodak will continue to invest in EBP to accelerate growth and create jobs.

“Kodak operations hired 134 new employees in 2017 for a broad range of jobs, from manufacturing process engineer to plumber/pipefitter to chemical operator and many more roles,” he noted.

Working for Bullwinkle will be Arline Liberti, vice president, asset and property, EBPD and corporate real estate; and Tim Palmer, vice president, development, EBPD and corporate real estate.

Eastman Business Park is a 1,200-acre research and development and manufacturing campus with more than 16 million square feet of multi-scale manufacturing, distribution, lab and office space. There are currently nearly 100 companies onsite employing more than 6,000 people.

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Eastman Business Park celebrates switch from coal to natural gas

When George Eastman started building Kodak Park in 1891, the first building constructed in the former orchard was a power plant.

Such was the importance of energy to the camera and film manufacturer.

In 2018, energy is still critical and now underlies the renaissance of the former Kodak Park as Eastman Business Park. The park is home to 110 companies and 6,500 employees.

“We are very excited about manufacturing coming back as a really relevant part of that growth,” said Dolores Kruchten, president of Eastman Business Park. Nearly all the speakers who came to celebrate the natural gas-powered energy project unveiled Tuesday remarked on the importance of energy to bringing more companies and more jobs to the business park.

The ribbon-cutting ceremony was held in a tent overlooking building 371, which has actually been creating power with gas since March. The low-slung blue building in view of the event tent was dwarfed by a neighboring blue building, which had been the coal-fired power plant for the park until late last winter. The transition means the end to 127 years of burning coal at the site.

“With this park and with this new plant, our world really is endless,” said John Prunkl, CEO of Ironclad Energy Partners, the parent company of RED-Rochester, the company delivering power to other businesses at the park.

Craig Bennett, president of RED-Rochester, said switching over from coal to gas without interrupting the energy flow to Eastman  Business Park customers was a little like “changing your tire while going down the highway at highway speeds.”  But with lots of local construction help and plant operators with 30 and more years’ experience, the transition was made.

The switch-over brings significant environmental benefits – reductions in sulfur dioxide emissions by 99 percent, carbon dioxide by 50 percent, particulates by 80 percent, Bennett said. The cut in pollutants isn’t just theoretical, he said. “It’s happened, it’s in place and we’re enjoying the benefits.”

Monroe County Executive Cheryl Dinolfo said she grew up within walking distance of Kodak Park and is happy to see manufacturing jobs start to return along with the cleaner air.

“For me, it’s always about jobs. Jobs, jobs, jobs.  We want people to live and prosper in Monroe County,” she said. When companies consider relocating to the area, Dinolfo said, “they want to know about the cost of doing business. Energy is part of the cost of doing business.”

Kruchten said the pipeline of companies interested in the park now is fuller than it has ever been in her three years working there. The steam generated by the power plant is prized by food processors and other manufacturers, she said.  The chilled water capabilities can be used to cool buildings or in manufacturing processes, she said.

Business park officials said the $75 million conversion project is the largest investment that has been made in the industrial park in more than 30 years.

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