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After 25 years, a look back--and also to the future

By PAUL ERICSON
Editor's Notes
Rochester Business Journal
August 24, 2012

With each passing year, the difference between then and now—then being 1987, when the first weekly issue of the Rochester Business Journal was published—grows more striking. Back then:

  • Eastman Kodak Co., the photo giant, employed more than 45,000 people locally;
  • Xerox Corp., another part of Rochester's traditional Big Three, had nearly 13,000 local employees;
  • more than 125,000 Rochester-area residents were employed by manufacturing companies; and
  • total non-farm employment in the Rochester metropolitan area was roughly 490,000.

    Today, Kodak employs 5,100 or fewer people locally as it struggles to reinvent itself and emerge from Chapter 11 bankruptcy. Xerox Corp. pulled itself back from the edge of insolvency in the 1990s, but it still has shed more than half of its 1987 local job total. And manufacturing businesses account for barely 60,000 area jobs now.

    Yet non-farm employment here now totals nearly 520,000, or some 30,000 more than a quarter-century ago. Thanks to the University of Rochester, now the area's top employer, and countless other businesses, Rochester's economy has proved remarkably resilient and lately has registered some of the strongest job growth of any metro region nationally.

    In less than two months, we will be marking the Rochester Business Journal's 25th anniversary with a commemorative edition that will look back at the news and trends that have shaped the business community here since October 1987. We have been hunting through our archives for information and images that document the era.

    Now we'd like to give you an opportunity to help spotlight significant milestones in the past 25 years of local business history. How? By sending us photos of important events in the history of your own business. In particular, we're looking for images that are visually compelling-such as well-known buildings under construction. And be selective; send two or three photos at most. Finally, the photos must be high-resolution images to be considered for publication.

    For more information on how to submit photos, go to go.rbj.net/photos25.

    Most of our commemorative edition will be retrospective in nature, but one section will look ahead. As part of that, we will be conducting a survey of readers to gather their thoughts on the outlook for Rochester over the coming years. Among other questions, we will be asking: What will Rochester be known for in 2037-25 years from now?

    To take part in this survey and weigh in with your comments, look for the email from us with the subject line: "RBJ Special Poll - Rochester's future." Or point your browser to go.rbj.net/future25.

    And in October, look for our special 25th-anniversary publication.

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