Good paying jobs will reduce violence

The best way to stop a bullet is with a good paying job.


Of the five poorest zip codes in New York State, three of them are located in the City of Rochester. Of the twenty poorest, Rochester has five and I represent three of them in the state senate. Notably, the majority of the families who live in these neighborhoods are considered “working poor:” those who have jobs, but whose household income is still below the federal poverty level.

It should not be a surprise that these same neighborhoods also experience high levels of violence. Last year, the City of Rochester had 76 homicides; 36 of which occurred in the five poorest zip codes, which is almost half of the total lives lost to violence in 2023. Of course, this isn’t a uniquely Rochester problem. As the former chair of the senate’s Upstate Cities Committee, I visited many small and mid-sized cities across New York State, each of which has seen increased gun violence, more youthful offenders, and continued challenges with drug and alcohol addiction.

So how do we make our streets safer? First, we must recognize that increasing public safety is not a one-policy solution. Some will attribute the increase in crime to recent changes in our bail or parole laws. This is both short-sighted and misleading. Yes, changes in our criminal justice system are still needed, but these policies do not address the root cause of much of the criminal activity: generational poverty and lack of economic opportunity. The hard truth is, until we pay more people with a living wage, we will not see a meaningful reduction in violence.

New Yorkers who earn minimum wage take home annual pay of approximately $29,500. In our poorest Rochester neighborhoods, families hover around $21,000. Many of these residents work in food service, as health care aides or in retail / hospitality roles; each of which is hard, time-consuming work. But these jobs are not designed to encourage saving, let alone create generational wealth.

This new year we must be intentional about treating economic development as an investment in public safety. I support tax incentives to bring new jobs to our state, but these employers must also ensure that the promised jobs are accessible to those families that need them most. Ribbon cuttings and photo-ops are not enough. We need specific strategies to remove hiring barriers by thinking about transportation, childcare, and workforce training as part of the job creation formula.

The recent announcement by Edwards Vacuum in neighboring Genesee County promises a $300M commitment to build a manufacturing plant in Batavia that will create 600 good-paying jobs. According to recent data, the average starting yearly salary of technician positions in these plants is  approximately $50,000. Notably, many of these jobs do not require more than a high school diploma. This could be life changing for Rochester residents, but how will workers from the poorest zip codes in the city access these jobs without public transit? Many residents do not own their own vehicle or cannot afford the childcare necessary to work nearly an hour away from their home.

I am working with RTS, Greater Rochester Enterprise and our Greater Rochester Chamber of Commerce to create a model that incentivizes large employers to provide direct transit access for their employees by utilizing our existing public transportation systems. This goes beyond just offering bus passes, and instead seeks to create a new route from our downtown transit center directly to the Batavia work site. If successful, this model could benefit other cities where many of the new job opportunities are in large rural industrial parks such as the new Micron plant outside of Syracuse.

As a member of the senate’s Commerce, Economic Development and Small Business committee, I want to help lead New York into a new era of equitable economic growth. We can do this by putting safeguards in place to ensure that the jobs coming to upstate are accessible to our inner cities and under-employed populations. If we are successful, it will result in safer, more vibrant neighborhoods for all New Yorkers.

Jeremy Cooney is a New York State Senator, representing Greater Rochester

GCEDC advances two of county’s largest ever capital investment projects  

The Genesee County Economic Development Center has accepted initial applications for incentives to advance the two of the largest capital investment projects in the county’s history. 

Edwards Vacuum, part of the Atlas Copco Group, is proposing to invest $212 million for the first phase of the company’s semiconductor dry pump manufacturing project at New York’s Green Manufacturing mega site at STAMP; while Horizon Acres Associates Inc. is proposing to invest $142 million to build several flex commercial/industrial facilities in the Town of Pembroke. 

“These historic investments represent the significant interest we’ve seen in Genesee County and at STAMP among companies exploring new business opportunities as a result of the growth of the advanced manufacturing and semiconductor sectors in our region and across upstate,” said Steve Hyde, GCEDC president and CEO.

Phase 1 of Edwards Vacuum’s facility will create 343 high-wage careers that will support the company’s domestic semiconductor customer base. It is anticipated that over a 20-year span, the project will generate roughly $13.4 million in revenues for the Town of Alabama, Genesee County, Oakfield-Alabama School District and the Alabama Fire Department. 

Atlas Copco USA Holdings Inc. & Subsidiaries has requested sales tax exemptions of $4.34 million and a 20-year property tax abatement of roughly $12.85 million. The project is estimated to generate $644 million in payroll and projected future municipal revenues, a $39 benefit to the local economy for every $1 of public investment. 

A public hearing will be scheduled on the proposed project agreements in the town of Alabama. 

Horizon Acres Associates’ 1.5 million square-foot flex campus will include six flex commercial/industrial facilities, with plans to start construction later this year. 

The facilities will be suitable for a large single tenant, multiple smaller tenants or suppliers for advanced manufacturing projects. The development is estimated to create up to 400 new jobs at full capacity. 

Horizon Acres Associates has requested a sales tax exemption estimated at $6.2 million, a property tax abatement estimated at $11.9 million and a mortgage tax exemption estimated at $1.1 million. 

The project is projected to generate $7.9 million in revenues to the Town of Pembroke, the Pembroke Central School District and Genesee County during the proposed 10-year PILOT agreement, which is estimated at 39.5 times the municipal revenue that would be generated under the property’s current use. 

The GCEDC’s economic analysis of the project estimates a $227 million impact, including $218 million in payroll and $9.1 million in future municipal revenues. For every $1 of public benefit the project is projected to generate $16 into the local economy. 

A public hearing will be scheduled on the proposed project agreements in the town of Pembroke. 

The board also accepted a final resolution from NY CDG Genesee 4 LLC for a 4.275 MW community solar farm in the Town of Pavilion on Shepard Road.  

The $6.5 million project is projected to generate some $500,000 in future revenues to Genesee County, the Town of Pavilion and the Pavilion Central Schools. 

[email protected] / (585) 653-4021 

Semiconductor support manufacturer bringing 600 jobs to Genesee County

U.S. Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer said the CHIPS and Science Act helped lure Edwards Vacuum's new $319 million facility to Genesee County
U.S. Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer said the CHIPS and Science Act helped lure Edwards Vacuum’s new $319 million facility to Genesee County (provided photo).

A British-based manufacturer specializing in vacuum and abatement equipment for the semiconductor industry will build a $319 million facility in Genesee County, bringing 600 jobs to the area.

Edwards Vacuum, a subsidiary of the Atlas Copco Group of Sweden, will use the facility to produce dry pump technology, a critical component to controlling the highly sensitive environment within the semiconductor manufacturing process.

Plans include construction of a 240,000-square-foot campus on the Western New York Science & Technology Advanced Manufacturing Park (STAMP) in the town of Alabama. The plant is expected to open in late 2024, the company said.

“This major investment from Edwards Vacuum builds on our momentum to secure New York as a leader in semiconductor manufacturing,” Gov. Kathy Hochul said in a news release.  “On the heels of Micron’s $100 billion commitment to Central New York, as well as New York’s Green CHIPS legislation and the federal CHIPS and Science Act, we are better positioned than ever to make New York a global hub for advanced manufacturing and attract the jobs of the future.”

Edwards Vacuum said it will provide internal training and education, and that it is committed to recruiting entry-level employees from disadvantaged communities and partnering with existing community-based recruitment and training programs to provide both soft skills and technical skills for individuals.

U.S. Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer (D-NY) courted Edwards Vacuum, urging company president Geert Follens to select the STAMP site for the new facility.

“The CHIPS And Science Act delivers for Upstate New York again,” Schumer said. adding that Edwards will be “supercharging our semiconductor supply chain at Western New York’s STAMP site.

“We are now seeing energy flow into Upstate’s manufacturing sector like never before, and this investment will further cement that the future of microchips will be built with American made products, crafted by New York workers.”

The agreement with Edwards Vacuum through Empire State Development includes $21 million in performance-based Excelsior Jobs Tax Credits, Investment Tax Credits and $1 million to support workforce development and the training of a diverse and inclusive workforce in exchange for the 600 full-time jobs.

Edwards Vacuum is expected to receive property, sales and mortgage tax incentives from the Genesee County Economic Development Center to support the largest workforce and capital investment proposed by any company at a GCEDC-developed site.

[email protected]/(585) 653-4020