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Officials react to Kodak's bankruptcy

Rochester Business Journal
January 19, 2012

As word of Eastman Kodak Co.’s bankruptcy spread around the globe Thursday, various elected and non-elected officials shared their views on the news and its impact on the company and the region.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo:

"The announcement that Kodak is filing for bankruptcy is difficult and disappointing news for the city and people of Rochester. Although Kodak will continue to operate during the bankruptcy process, the state has been in touch with the company and local officials and New York State stands ready to support the Rochester community. This is a time for all of us at all levels of government to come together and work with the private sector to support Rochester's growth. Rochester is known the world over as a place where businesses can come to thrive and grow and the state will continue to empower the Rochester community in order to build on that remarkable strength."

Rochester Mayor Thomas Richards:

This morning I spoke with officials from Eastman Kodak, who confirmed that the company has filed for bankruptcy for the purpose of restructuring. While this news has been rumored and even expected for some time now, it was still a shock to hear the words. I can understand the uncertainty and angst that Kodak employees and retirees are feeling this morning. We hope for the best for them in the days and weeks ahead.

I have lived in Rochester all of my life and Kodak was always a constant and sturdy symbol of our city. A benevolent employer and a generous corporate citizen, Kodak spread its wealth and influence on our city’s social, educational and cultural institutions.

All over the world, Rochester is known as the home of Kodak. What we now must remember is that Rochester is still the home of Kodak and the company will still open its doors today and thousands of people will work there. The company is struggling and we will not forget what it has done for our city nor the indelible impression it has made on who, and what we are today.

This event reminds us that there is much to our city and community--often helped by the Kodak of the past--that goes beyond the Kodak of today. We will continue to build our broader community in which Kodak will play a different role. As we do so, we will do whatever we can to support Kodak. We wish them well in their efforts to rebuild and restore the company to solvency and to put Kodak on a pathway to growth and stability.

Monroe County Executive Maggie Brooks:

“Like many across our community, I received the news of Kodak’s decision to file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection with a heavy heart. While this development did not come as a surprise, there is no doubt the Eastman Kodak Co. legacy will always remain intertwined with Monroe County’s own rich history. It’s important to remember, however, that our local economy is no longer defined by solely by Kodak’s contributions—it hasn’t been for some time.

“As county executive, I proudly make regular visits to businesses and employers throughout our area. I am always inspired by the strength and resiliency of our local economy, especially the hardworking men and women who drive it forward. We, as a community, do have much to be proud of. We continue to grow private-sector jobs faster than any other community in the state, our consumer confidence is currently the highest in all of New York, national publications have ranked our job market as one of the strongest in the nation, and recently we were recognized as one of the world’s top 10 places poised for greatness in the year 2012. Our local economy, once defined by a handful of large manufacturers, is now a diverse and exciting mix of small and midsize businesses that are showing electric growth in fields like optics, high technology, health care and education.

“For these reasons, I am confident that our best days are yet to come. Moving forward, Monroe County will continue to work closely with local public- and private-sector leaders, including those guiding Kodak’s restructuring, to support the company in a way that best serves the interests of our entire community. Let’s all root for a future for Kodak that is just as strong as its past, but we should also take pride in a Monroe County economy that grows stronger with each passing day.”

University of Rochester President Joel Seligman: 
“The news that Eastman Kodak is filing for bankruptcy reorganization is deeply saddening for Rochester. Kodak has been a vital part of our community for 130 years. This does not mean that Kodak will be liquidated or that all of Kodak’s current employees will lose their jobs. In the best outcome, Kodak will emerge from reorganization a smaller company with less overwhelming debt and a sustainable future. 

“Everyone in Rochester will reflect on this sobering news with a sense of gratitude for what Eastman Kodak has meant to our city; for George Eastman’s visionary technology; for Eastman’s generosity to our city and wider community; and for the tens of thousands of former Kodak employees who still reside here and enrich this community.

“Rochester will very likely never know another Eastman Kodak, but it benefits from the economic, scientific and cultural contributions of several institutions of higher education—including the University of Rochester and RIT—as well as an increasing number of vibrant start-up firms that directly or indirectly have been aided by Kodak. Rochester has embraced the transition to a knowledge economy, and, because of that, it has a bright future.

“At the University of Rochester we will never forget Kodak or George Eastman. Kodak and George Eastman will forever be a part of our University because of our Kodak Hall at Eastman Theatre, the Eastman School of Music, and the Eastman Institute for Oral Health.”
(Seligman serves on the board of directors of Kodak.)

Congresswoman Louise Slaughter:

“Like so many in Rochester, I was deeply saddened by today’s news that Kodak has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection.

“Kodak has helped shape our city’s identity and even now, in this difficult time, we all still benefit from the talent of current and former Kodak employees and the ideas and products they’ve created.

“While I expect it will be a different Kodak that emerges after the Chapter 11 proceedings, I know it will still be a company that makes Rochester proud. Like the city it helped support, Kodak is resilient.

“I’ve been staying in close contact with Kodak’s senior management. I have great faith in them and have offered to help them in any way that I can. Likewise I have also been working closely with many of the businesses that make up the Eastman Business Park to ensure that their business operations remain uninterrupted. There is a tremendous potential for growth in the 25 businesses that call the Business Park home and their success must also be protected.

“Kodak’s footprint on Rochester is immeasurable and while today is a sad day for our city, it is one that will bring out the best in who we are.”

Rochester Business Alliance Inc. CEO Sandra Parker: 
“As president and CEO of an organization that traces its roots to George Eastman, I understand and share in the nostalgic sadness being expressed over Kodak’s decision to file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. However, I do not view this development as a tragic for either Kodak or for this community, and the Rochester Business Alliance will continue to support Kodak as it works to emerge from bankruptcy, and to promote Greater Rochester for what it is – home to many world-class companies, a highly skilled and entrepreneurial work-force and a great place to live, run a business and raise a family.”

Greater Rochester Enterprise Inc. CEO Mark Peterson:

“Kodak will reorganize and reemerge in some form as a positive entity in the Greater Rochester, N.Y. region. The real story is we’ve had a transformation in this region for more than two decades, diversifying the economy and bringing new companies here. Many of those companies have spun off from Kodak, and many of them have hired the quality work force that we produced out of Kodak. Our talented work force is why we lead the state in job creation and why we continue to be an innovative economy that will continue to grow moving forward. We’re still very positive about the future with Kodak and with Kodak as a partner with so many other companies here in the Greater Rochester Region.”

Assemblyman Mark Johns:

“The news of Eastman Kodak filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection is surely hard news for our community.  Although Kodak will continue to operate and restructure through this difficult process, I intend to reach out to company officials and my colleagues in all levels of government to support Kodak and the Rochester community.

“Our region is known as a place where businesses come to thrive and grow, and I am hopeful that Kodak will emerge even stronger with this restructuring effort to once again be one of our local economy’s leaders.”

(c) 2012 Rochester Business Journal. To obtain permission to reprint this article, call 585-546-8303 or email

What You're Saying 

Peter Pappas at 9:18:48 PM on 1/20/2012
This week Eastman Kodak filed for bankruptcy. Is there a lesson for educators about what happens when you lose touch with your customer?

At the core of Kodak's eventual demise was the failure of the leadership to remain connected to their customers. They convinced the...  Read More >

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